August 2, 2012

Parental support more important than ever

A new school year is about to begin, and it is impossible to ignore the context of the enormously challenging economic circumstances facing public schools. We have certainly been through difficult times in the past, but this has been the most sustained period of financial distress schools have ever had to deal with.

Deep cuts continue to take their toll on vital educational programs and services countywide. We won’t be able to calculate for several years the impact this loss of programs will have on the children we serve every day. That is why parental support is even more essential than ever.

Parents everywhere have the same basic concern: What can I do to make sure my child has the best possible chance to get the most out of school?

At the very least, we hope all parents will make sure that students come to school ready to learn: they are well nourished, well rested, they’ve done their assignments, and they understand it is their responsibility to follow school rules and respect their teachers.

It takes active parental involvement to make that happen. Loving support and basic attention to details can go a long way.

Parental involvement in school normally means taking part in PTA activities, helping chaperone field trips, volunteering in the classroom, and other school-based actions.

There is another form of parental involvement in education that is even more important — the involvement of parents with their children’s education at home.

This means encouraging children to read, monitoring their homework assignments, reading to them, and placing reasonable restrictions on computer time, gaming time, and television viewing. It also means making sure they go to school every day, on time and talking to children about why school is important. Study after study shows that parents who are readers have a good chance of turning their children into readers and academic achievers.

This kind of parental involvement is hard and relentless, because it must be constant. Parents have to be around to supervise; they have to put pressure on their kids to turn off the television or the computer and do their homework or read. They also have to make sure children go to school even when there is some small reason for staying home.

It’s hard work, but it’s hard to think of anything more important parents can do for their children. Parents are essential partners in the educational process and their help is needed more than ever.