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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Parental Involvement = Good Student

You would think this would be a” no-brainer” but unfortunately it isn’t. I spoke with a friend who has been teaching second grade for a few years. She has a reputation as being tough, not only with the students, but with the parents as well. Each year she sends home a contract for the parents to sign and in part it says how the parents need to be a part of their child’s education.

Now jump ahead a few years, junior high age, and many years ago for me.
I can think of no better instance to illustrate this point than the following:
It’s back-to–school-night. I have four classes that are “Fundamental Skills” classes and one high level class. Can you guess the ending here?
Well, I had more parents show up in that one high level class than in the four other classes combined.

I can not stress this enough. There is a direct relationship between how well your child does in school and how involved you are as a parent.

- Read to your kids when they are little. Let them read to you.
- Set a good example by having them see you read.
- Take them to the library to pick out books.
- Help and check homework as needed.
- Quiz them on their spelling words, basic math facts, etc.
- Go to back to school night or those “open school” days when
you can sit in the back of the classroom. If you can’t go,
send their grandparent, Aunt or Uncle.
- Attend parent conferences and if you can’t, request a phone conference.
- Be an aide on a class trip, bake the cupcakes, make the costume,
read a story, give a lesson, in short, ask the teacher if there is something,
anything you can do to get involved in your child’s class.

Yes, that’s right; the school can’t do it alone. It’s a partnership. When your child sees you care from the beginning, they’ll do better in the end.

Copyright © 2005 Deborah Sharp Loeb


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's odd how often I have read this about parental involvement and student achievement. My oldest son's father and I (divorced, but pleasantly so, friendly and deeply involved with our child) have read to our son since before he was born; have always and faithfully and enthusiastically attended the back-to-school nights and went on the class trips and volunteered in the classroom and helped with and/or checked homework and inquired about school and knew and know his friends and their parents and meet with his teachers and principals etc. etc. etc. All three of my sons see me reading daily because I would rather read than eat, and I am a writer and editor by profession. Despite all this, my oldest son, now 14, has deteriorated as a student--dramatically. We are working with the teachers and the guidance counselors and he is in therapy with a woman we all like and respect and trust, and he has been evaluated for ADHD and gone for medical tests (he has high blood pressure and is insulin resistant--other tests still pending). And in spite of all of our invovlement through the years, and the involvement of his step-father (my husband, who also enjoys a friendly relationship with my ex-husband, so there are no dramatic emotional issues going on) and his grandmothers and aunts and uncles, he has been, since seventh grade, a very poor student. A very nice person, in fact, and funny and sweet and very sensitive, and a gifted musician, but really unmotivated when it comes to school. Just not interested at all.
When I was growing up, my father, God rest his soul, was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with manic-depressive tendencies. He was also alcoholic. My family was occasionally homeless, we lived in poverty for many, many years, and my parents were in no way involved in my schooling the way I am with my children. Absolutely no comparison whatsoever. However, I was an A student, determined to do well despite horrendous personal traumas in my life, including, but not limited to violence, sexual abuse and kidnapping, and eventually I won two full academic scholarships to two different universities. My parents never looked at a scrap of my homework, much less helped me with any of it, never volunteered in the classroom or did any of the other things many parents do today.
I keep hearing and reading how important it is to be involved in all those ways listed. But you can't prove it by me. I'm starting to think it's all a bit of a crock.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know., I think there's sometimes an element of mystery to what makes a student catch hold. Some flower in the rockiest of soils, and some can't seem to click no matter what. Thanks God life doesn't end with high school -- we get second chances. And more. It's harder, but it can be done. and, in the end, each child must do it himself.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you think that maybe more parents show up for high level classes than basic skills classes because they are prouder of their kid and know that they'll come away with a warm glow about how cool their kid is? Just a thought.

I have a frustrating 7th grade son. Bright as all get out, but has difficulty settling down and working. For instance, he's supposed to write a "personal narrative"--which has to be taken factually from his own life. Well, personally, I think this is a stupid idea on the part of the education system, because adolescents hate talking about their feelings, so of course they're going to stress out about this. But first of all, apparently this narrative is now already way overdue. How come this is the first I heard of it? I do ask--every single day. Secondly, I even came up with an idea for him that seemed not to put too much of his life on the line (and there are some very personal, difficult things going on in our family life right now, so I can understand he's careful). He recently took part in a costume contest where he designed most of the costume, and made a good deal of it with my help. We were late getting going, so the last week we were really under the gun, but it looked wonderful and he won a prize. So wouldn't this make a great personal narrative? Oh, no, he says, it has to be about something exciting and nothing exciting happens in his life. You're a 12-year-old kid living in suburban New Jersey, I said; your teachers don't -expect- to hear how you became a Supreme Court Justice or battled a bear single-handedly. Presumable making a costume by yourself and winning an award is going to be about as exciting as it gets. It's supposed to have rising action and an outcome. Well, it does. He thought he wasn't going to get his costume done on time and he did, and he even won an award. Aaark! And I'm a writer and editor, too, so I take it badly when he tells me that I don't understand what is needed in a narrative.


10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been helping people pass the GED (high school equiv. diploma test) for 20 years now. Some people seem to pass to spite bad parents others to make them proud. The older students in my classes are also looking to make their children proud, to set an example that perhaps their parents didn't set for them. I don't particuarly care if my students are studying to make their parents smile or shut them up, so long as they are doing their homework, I'm good.

Eliza: I totally feel for your son. Writing a personal narrative is painful and to be avoided at all costs, especially at 13! I am ashamed to admit how many hands of solitare I played before I settled down to it. Sounds like the teacher is trying to explain plot diagraming. Try going over his classnotes with him and brainstorming an idea together.

It's funny how we miss the denoumonts in our own stories.
Deus ex Machina, have mercy on us!

3:47 PM  
Blogger DSL said...

The following was the first email I every received at Hodgepodge and it just happened to be about this post so I thought I'd pass along this other viewpoint.

Hurrah and Amen! I'm so delighted your readers will, no doubt, be sending this message on to many parents of young children.

You've stated some non-complicated yet essential ingredients for academic success! Many loving and incredibly busy parents may have just failed to realize the basic truth of involvement and many a grandparent (and retired teacher) may find your suggestions perfect for forwarding without feeling "mettlesome".

I thank you...and my seven grandchildren thank you!
Keep up the good work!

3:54 PM  

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