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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Parental Involvement- Too much or Too Less?

Parental Involvement- Too much or Too Less?

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How often do you as a teacher communicate with your students' parents/ guardians in an effort to be sure they are doing all that 'they' can to assist with their child's educational endeavours? Do you think that this is necessary? Why or why not?

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S.Gatterson's picture
S.Gatterson
Sixth Grade Reading Teacher from Houston, Texas

It is very important that teachers keep an open line of communication with parents or guardians. Because we want to build trust with our students, parents, and the community, we should make every effort possible to contact parents regularly. Some of the ways to communicate with them is through e-mails, newsletters, notes home, telephone, scheduled conferences (telephone or in person), or home visits. Sometimes it may be difficult for a number of reasons, but we have to try our best to show how much we care about our students academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. As educators, we can build bridges, make connections, and maintain a firm foundation for our students, parents, and the community.

Ray Gonzales's picture
Ray Gonzales
Student Teacher

I totally agree with you Sheila, the importance of involving parents regularly is crucial to the development of student learning because parents are really the foundation of the student's academic growth. One critical aspect in the process of involving parents is to not only engage communications for student corrections but for praise, even for the slightest improvements. Not only does this decrease negativity between the parents and teacher but also enlightens student's awareness of their achievements. Involving parents builds responsibilities for both parents and students, and demonstrates commitment of teachers that they care as well.

Jeanette Lopez's picture

Parent involvement does make a tremendous difference in a student's education but teachers have to understand that in our society today children do not always have that support. At times especially today the number of single parents is extremely high and it becomes difficult for that parent to be involved as much as they would like. I feel that parents should make some type of commitment to be able to be more involved with their child's academic lives because it does strongly impact the student. There are those who don't receive any parental support and I feel that those are the most struggling students and teachers should be aware of that so that student don't feel alone. Teachers should definetely have the responsibility to reach out to parents as much as possible because that relationship guides the students to a better educational atmosphere because they feel cared about and that makes a drastic difference with the student making that additional effort to try their best.

Laraine's picture

I agree that parent involvement is really important. I am field basing right now and I am in a classroom where there are many students who are falling behind and don't have any type of support at home. It amazes me on the number of students who are lacking parental support. I got the opportunity to meet with the special education department and they were in ARD meetings and were waiting on parent after parent and there were so many no shows. It's sad when students have no one to depend on and have no one who cares about their education. I feel that the teacher needs to try and make a connection with the parent or try to find someone in the student's life who wants to help them succeed.

Kevin Ecker's picture

As a high school teacher, this is an issue that I struggle with on a daily basis. On one hand, I think it is crucial that parents are involved in their child's education. On the other, I believe that high school is a time where we start treating our students as adults and make them responsible for their own education. These two beliefs are polar opposites of each other and I have a problem trying to merge these two philosophies in my classroom. When do I get the parents involved and when do I make the students responsible? I struggle with this on a daily basis. Each student present their own situation, but for the most part, I do make contact with the parents if their is a problem in class or if their child is struggling. After making the initial contact, I will follow up with them on their child's progress throughout the year. I also live in the town where I teach, so I also constantly run into parents and I am able to inform them about their child's progress as well. For whatever reason, these are normally "positive contacts" where their child is doing well in class. I believe this is important because it gets the parents away from always hearing only negative things from the school about their child.

Rick's picture

Parental involvement is a frustrating problem at the high school where I work. We struggle with involvement on a regular basis. I see this not only as a teacher but also as a coach. Many of my students' parents work evenings and are unable to support their students after school. Additionally, many students do not receive parental support because they are needed to work to help support their families. Also, parents do not take an active role in communicating with teachers about student progress. Some of this lack of communication stems from a education not being a top priority in a lot of families. Thus, most of my feelings about parental involvement tend to be negative.

Teri's picture

As a Kindergarten teacher, I feel you can never have enough Parent Involvement. We send home weekly newsletters and accept parent volunteers whenever they are available. We also take part in our school wide newsletter that goes out once a month. Parent-teacher conferences are conducted twice a year. I am proud of the fact that I get to know my parents so well. It was a sad moment when at a 5 year old t-ball game, one of my parents didn't even recognize her daughter's teacher. How sad is it, when after spending 9 months with her daughter, the parent didn't even know what the teacher looked like!

Megan Mitchell's picture

I try to contact parents at least once every nine weeks to let them know how their student is doing. It is hard as a special education teacher to contact every parent of the students I am Teacher of Record for and the parents of all the students I have in class. We hold parent/teacher conferences in the fall and spring but I usually only have 2-4 parents show up. I also have an annual case review for every student I am Teacher of Record for where I discuss the students' progress, goals, and plans for the future. I have about 5-10% of the parents attend. I can't believe that parents are not involved in these meetings regarding their child's education. I think communication between the teacher and parent is extremely important. I have asked about doing home visits but it is not recommended that we do so. There have been times that I have had a student for all four years of high school and never spoke with the parents. I wish some parents would be more involved in the education of their children and show them how important school is. What are some alternative ways to get parents better involved?

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