One of the first things the article addresses is the research done on racial/cultural groups. In my district, there are active parent groups representing many of the "gap" groups, the groups of students who are impacted by an achievement gap. Interestingly research showed that there was little difference in involvement based on race alone.
There was a difference among those groups: value of education. Turns out that all of the groups are equally involved. But not all of the groups value education in general. I know many, if not all, of my colleagues would agree that it is quite helpful when parents impress upon their children the value of education, the value of learning, the value of trying new things.
When I ask parents to get involved in their child's educational experiences, I ask them for two things. First, model the value of learning. This is so, so, so crucial! If parents don't value learning, the kids know it. And they show it. The second thing I ask parents to do is talk to their children about school. Yeah, we all know the good ole' "How was school today?" question, along with it's best friend, "What did you do at school today?" We also know the answers. "Fine," and "Nothing" respectively.
To help parents on this end, my grade level team compiled a list of questions parents can ask that will provide more insight to the school day, and hopefully more conversation. This list goes home at curriculum night (and is sent home after for those parents who didn't attend.) For example:
- What's one new thing you tried today?
- What is one thing that made you smile?
- What are you proud of?
- What do you want to learn more about?
These generally encourage more elaborate responses, and they lend themselves to all ages, making for great family dinner conversation!
From the article's perspective? Here's the key ingredients:
- VALUE schooling!
- Make college an expectation, not an option
- Talk about the school day! (Questions above help!)
- Seek out the best teacher for your child
While many schools do not allow for specific teacher requests, the rest of the list is a MUST in my mind. The article is an eye-opening, quick read, I encourage anyone interested in education to take a peek and form your own thoughts on the parental involvement exploration.