Parental Involvement is Key …or My Beef with Blaming Government for Education Problems

I attended the 1st quarter/marking period awards program at my daughters’ school this morning.  Rather than having one long program as has been done previously, they broke it down into 30 minute programs by grade.  Luckily, 4th and 2nd grade were back to back, with a short break of 30 minutes between them.  They explained this as being considerate of our (parents’) time, as well as the students.  Makes perfect sense.

In the fourth grade, there are roughly 20 kids in each of the three classes.  There might have been 20 parents there, maybe a handful more, but some were couples where both parents were there for their kid.  I estimate, based on grouping of parents, that less than 25% of students had at least one parent there to see them walk across the stage and collect their awards.

The 2nd grade had more people in the audience.  There were more couples, as well.  I’d estimate a little over a third of the three classes of roughly 27 kids each had parental support.

No, the quarterly awards ceremony isn’t to announce anything as grand as Valedictorian, student body election results, etc.  And it isn’t a pep rally, although you can see it on the faces of the kids who get more of the perfect attendance, good citizenship, honor roll, home reading, and accelerated reader, that they are excited to have done well.  Those who’ve spotted their parents usually have even bigger smiles while looking out at them.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Make time to get to these awards ceremonies.  The cheaply printed certificates mean something to your kids, but it means even more for them to see you in the audience watching them receive the awards.  It may seem trivial to you, but it shows your kid that you support them… that you feel their education is worth a couple hours of leave to see them recognized for doing well.  It really does send a message either way.

I know we don’t all have jobs that allow us to pop away for a couple hours.  My wife is a teacher and though she’d love to be able to skip out to see the awards ceremony, that means she’s not teaching other kids –and her principal isn’t being quite a lenient with the use of personal time off this year.  I, on the other hand, work in a place that affords me the chance to  come and go as needed as long as I either get my hours in for the day or burn leave.  There are times when I can’t get away for field trips and such, but I do my best to be there for the awards ceremonies.  If at all possible, I’m there and our kids know that we find their education very important.

And it isn’t just the awards ceremonies.  A lot of people in this country think our schools are failing our children.  I would argue that our parents are failing our children.  We, in general, don’t spend enough time checking our kids’ homework, making sure their projects are done correctly, communicating with their teachers, and showing up for parent-teacher conferences.  We’ll let homework suffer so they can play a sport or do an activity.  We’ll take them out of school to go on a family vacation.  We’ll not read with them (almost) every night.  These are our failures, not the schools’, and certainly not the governments’.

Big Brother (Federal Government) and his smaller siblings (state and local) can’t legislate smart, motivated kids.  That comes from the parental involvement and encouragement.  If you don’t believe me and you’ve been skipping the awards ceremonies, go to one (if you can’t make them all) and look at the difference in the faces and bearing of the kids whose parents made the extra effort to be there.  It’ll make you a believer.

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