Schools that have high numbers of students that qualify for free or reduced lunch (Title I schools) typically have a requirement to increase parent engagement.
Schools that are not Title I also always look for ways to have more parent engagement.
What if, instead of trying to get parents to engage, we as educators saw ourselves in a totally different light?
What if we recognized that the truth is that we simply support the education of a family's children?
What if we started each year by saying, "Hi, my job is to support you in educating your child. What do you want your child to learn this year?"
I say what if, because we don't approach it that way. Even though we know that every child who walks through our doors has an education already. It's what their parents do that educate them.
Maybe if we stop thinking that we can define what kids need to learn, and we ask the parents some things will change...
- Maybe parents will be more involved, without us having to make plans for tricking them into being involved.
- Maybe we won't need to rely on standardized tests as much because parents will be telling us exactly what is important to them.
- Maybe we will have fewer discipline problems because families are working with us.
- Maybe we will focus more on soft skills because we will realize that's what parents really want their kids to learn.
- Maybe we will care more because we will know the families better.
- Maybe budget cuts for education won't happen every year.
Whether we want to admit it or not, parents already are the primary educators for their children, and we, as educators, play a supportive role.
We would be wise to intentionally start making choices that give parents more care and attention as it relates to the education of the most important thing in their life.