Parents have always been and still are the captains of learning fate of their children in school settings, and their children are still masters of their destiny. Whether or not they are aware, parents’ heavily influence the educational route that children travel along as they grow up and transition out into the ‘real’ world. What do parents know about their children that will help educators facilitate successful knowledge acquisition, and what do they want educators to know, say and do to encourage their sustained engagement with k-12 schools?
We know that family engagement at school changes as students reach middle school and high school. How can educators keep parents engaged as their kids gain more independence? A great place to begin to answer that question is by asking for students’ input.
What do parents want from educators at school? What do parents in a digital tech rich society want from their child’s school today? Certainly they want their child to succeed in school and in life, but there have been some longstanding barriers to connecting with schools, which only widen as children enter both middle and high school. Now is the time to ask and listen to hear about them directly from parents themselves. No more assumptions or presumptions.
We now have an opportunity to hear from parents who have felt that their voices didn’t matter in education. This gives educators another opportunity to identify and tap into parents’ power and strengths, acknowledge and address their concerns. Ultimately, we can align them with that of schools to foster achievement, maintain and increase engagement up through high school graduation.
When we hear what they say, recognize what they can bring to the education table, it then behooves us to reflect on our practices and perspectives, perceptions and alter them accordingly-with cultural responsiveness. Traditionally, schools came first-mission, vision, and practice protocol. Consideration was given to parents after the fact. Either parents ‘get with the program’ or get lost. They were left out and the most powerful ally to schools were ignored. Schools operated as though they could do it all by themselves. Now we see the light!
We need parents to partner with us in all facets of learning and so we are essentially starting over-back to the drawing board-re-defining, and re-designing culture, climate, curriculum, and collaborating with parents in promoting academic and life success of students. Another avenue to engagement involves the voices and input of the children themselves, as links between parents and schools.
For 2017, a new report from Learning Heroes and Carnegie Corporation of New York, “Parents 2017: Unleashing Their Power & Potential” explores parents’ concerns and hopes for their children’s future. They surveyed parents and discovered what and why there seems to be a perception gap regarding their child’s reading and math proficiency and aims to use the data to design supports and tools for parents’ use to help them navigate school systems and support the academic achievement of their children from preK through 12th grade.
Read the full report. Follow the link: