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Parents make a huge

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Parents make a huge difference in a child's education. I did, however, appreciate the comment:
[Kids] spend 15,000 hours in our schools, how can we blame the parents?
With that understanding, teachers have a huge opportunity to make a difference.

-Kesler

Administrator, author and educator

Laura: Just curious, are you

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Laura:

Just curious, are you Japanese and teach English, or do you teach Japanese and English?...

Thanks for the insightful comments. You hit the nail on the head by recommending that we read the "The Read-Aloud Handbook." The best thing a parent can do to help their child succeed in school is to first read to them. Mem Fox recommends 1000 books before they turn five years old. Wouldn't that be great if all parents did that?

My point with this article is that we cannot depend on parents to read 1000 books to their children before they go to school. Unlike a coach, we have no control over parent behaviors and whether they accept the "Accountablity" you describe is not up to us. If parents don't do it, like a coach, can we kick them off the team? The only thing we can do is invite and encourage.

Wait... that is not the only thing we can do. We, as trained and prepared educators can find interesting, engaging, and exciting ways to get our students to learn, regardless and sometimes in spite of what the parents do or not do. We can focus our attention on inspiring the student to take the protagonist role in their learning. Yes, our job is easier when parents help and cooperate at home, but let's get real... we cannot depend on them to do so. The only person we have complete control over is ourselves-- and there is a lot WE can do to make things better. So, let parents know how they can help, but work as if the parent will not be helping at all.
Great discussion.
Never lose your passion!

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Administrator, author and educator

Eileen: Thanks for reading

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Eileen:
Thanks for reading this post. You make some great comments. I don't disagree with you. Parents are important. Educators could really use the help of all the parents. The "team" concept is wonderful.

My point, however is that parents aren't and cannot be a required part of the "school" learning equation. As Mike Mattos said, students don't choose where they are born and which parents they get. We cannot hold the parents accountable, and we cannot require anything from them. In short, we have no control over what a parent does or does not do with their child's learning at home.

Yes we should reach out to parents, but what learning happens at school has nothing to do with parents, or should not depend on them. We should be able, as professionals, to take a student from wherever he or she is and get them up to grade level. If the parent can and is able and willing to help, so much the better... cream on top of the cake. So I reiterate, parents aren't necessary for students to learn at school.
Thanks for the post!

Ben Johnson
San Antonio, Texas

Japanese/English Teacher

"A child spends 900 hours a

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"A child spends 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 outside school. Which teacher has the bigger influence? Where is more time available for change?" - Jim Trelease "The Read-Aloud Handbook". I suggest that we not bury our heads in the sand and say parents aren't important (and then use that to blame teachers for students' learning difficulties). Rather, let's work on ways to communicate the urgency of parental involvement to the parents themselves. We're educators, right? We need to make sure they are part of the conversation. Education has to be a team effort. Teachers, parents, and students are like the legs of a tripod. Take away one or more of those supports and the structure cannot stand. Of course a great teacher can make a difference. But imagine the power of that difference if parents (and students) were fully involved as well. I suggest reading Jim Trelease's newest edition of "The Read-Aloud Handbook" for examples of the power parents have, regardless of their years in college and lack of competency tests. For all of you who like to use sports analogies when discussing education, how is your team going to do if everyone isn't on board and pulling their weight? Does a coach tell a team that he/she as the coach is the only one who needs to do any work? Let's get real about what it really takes for students to succeed in school - a "team" consisting of teachers, parents, and students. EACH ONE has accountability.

Global speaker, author, consultant strengthening diverse schools

While I agree that teachers

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While I agree that teachers need to stop blaming or bashing parents, the answer is not to say parents aren't important. They are critical as mentors and supporters and advocates. While many middle-class parents serve in those roles, parents from low-income backgrounds or immigrant families often don't have the tools or knowledge about the school system to navigate it. They feel disconnected and disrespected. If we want to do everything possible to reduce the achievement gap, we can't negate the role of parents. Educators need to reach out to families in new ways, with respect for the skills and knowledge the parents DO have, even if they don't have formal education. For more reasons why parents don't come to school and what to do about it, see my blogpost http://bit.ly/qHIu89

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