A Parents Role in Education From A Teachers Perspective
Seventy-nine percent of parents demonstrate they they want to learn more about how to be more involved in their childrens education. Seventy-seven percent of parents also think their children’s teachers could learn more about involving parents in their children’s learning.
Partner the above statistic with studies showing a correlation between parent participation in the classroom and successful students, and the complex problems of the nation’s school system would seem to be solved.
However the obvious is not always that simple.
“Parents want to help but are often afraid to do anything,” says Jane Anderson, a New York Public School teacher and parent of two school age children.
As a new teacher and a seasoned parent, Anderson brings a unique perspective to the school where she teaches and her daughter attends. An active parent in the classroom, Anderson went on to become a teacher after her second child was born. She became interested in education when she heard her daughter’s first grade classroom was severely overcrowded.
“I began volunteering three mornings a week, and I could see there was no magic, no secret formula in teaching kids how to read,” she says. “I was able as a parent to come in and work not with my own child but with other kids. But by doing that, I learned what my child was learning so I could help her.”
Not every parent is able to spend time in the classroom, and establishing a relationship with the teacher is vital. Before she took on her first teaching job, Anderson worked part time and escorted her four year old son to and from pre-school. When she started teaching, she missed the feeling of being in touch with her son’s teachers. “But they made an effort to call me, and it was based on their knowing me and what my concerns were,” says Anderson. “So much of education depends on relationships. When there’s a good strong healthy relationship, teachers don’t feel at all put out reaching out to parents.”
But just how do you establish a relationship with the teacher and why, as studies show, do so many parents feel it is difficult to communicate with a teacher?
Anderson maintains it’s difficult for parents and teachers to see the other’s point of view. “A parent’s perspective is about what is my child getting, whereas a teacher is thinking how am I going to manage 30 kids and teach them all to read,” says Anderson.
In other words, parents see the big picture: they know where their child was last year, how far he’s come and in what areas he’s struggling. They monitor every developmental leap and potential setback. Teachers, on the other hand, see the here and now. They know what skills the child has not mastered, and focus on what she needs to learn by June.
“Parents look at their children’s long term educational career; teachers are looking at making it through the school year,” says Anderson. “Parents and teachers need to understand the other’s point of view if they’re going to get anywhere.”