The countless conversations that I have had with parents over the years have made me think a lot about parent involvement. I have often encountered situations where parents are trying to let go of monitoring every aspect of their child’s education in order to provide the child with some independence and responsibility. Sometimes, these attempts to allow the student to spread his or her wings ends in failure. So, my question is when should parents let go and at what expense? Should a parent let his or her child experience the failure of poor grades? Should a child’s education be placed in the child’s hands or should a parent be involved until they graduate? What does involved mean? Does it mean checking that assignments are complete? Does it mean providing consequences for poor grades? Does it mean emailing the teacher endlessly. I could go on and on with these questions.
I don’t think I have the answers to these questions, but I can tell you what I wish for. I wish parents would talk to their children every evening about what they learned in school and never take “nothing” as an answer. I wish parents would ask questions and spark discussions about what their child is learning. I wish parents would ask to see their child’s notebook once a week. I wish parents would read to their children or discuss books that they are reading. I wish parents would never make the statement “I was never good at . . . I can’t help my child learn… ” I wish parents would teach their children to be proactive, instead of reactive. I wish that if a child fails, the parent will teach the child how to pick himself up and learn from the mistake. I wish parents would start every conference or phone call with the question “Could you give me three strategies that my child can use to improve?”, and end the call with “Thank you, I appreciate your advice. I am confident that my child can apply your suggestions to do better. ” I wish parents would remember that teachers care about kids and are happy to help and provide support. I could continue with many more wishes, but lastly I wish parents would tell their children that you earn a grade by learning, not by doing extra credit.