November is Parental Involvement Month

In a fast-paced world like ours, it can sometimes feel easy to become robotic — melding and compressing our schedules. At times we limit the duties and tasks, just to make it through the day thinking about how to de-stress our lives for ourselves and our kids. The thought of adding any additional responsibility to our already busy schedules feels overwhelming, especially when that addition involves education.

Fortunately, even though it may seem like just one more daunting task to add to the pile, studies show that when we take the time to truly become a part of our children’s education, the results are overwhelmingly positive.

“The most accurate predictors of student achievement in schools are not family income or social status, but the extent to which the family creates a home environment that encourages learning, communicates high yet reasonable expectations for the child’s achievements, and becomes involved in the child’s education at school.” (National PTA, 2000)

Our children’s home lives are like moons orbiting their education. Not only can they shine a light when situations seem dark, but they can work as a force of nature — affecting the tides — changing the flow of a child’s future when implemented with fidelity.

While all of this may feel astronomical, the good news is that this doesn’t have to be hard.

“In the past, parent involvement was characterized by volunteers, mostly mothers, assisting in the classroom, chaperoning students and fundraising. Today, the old model has been replaced with a much more inclusive approach: school-family-community partnerships now include mothers and fathers, stepparents, grandparents, foster parents, other relatives and caregivers, business leaders and community groups — all participating in goal-oriented activities, at all grade levels, linked to student achievement and school success.” (National Education Association, 2008)

Being involved in your child’s education does not mean that you need to volunteer in their classroom on a daily basis or organize their school’s next large-scale fundraiser. Start small — sit down with your children as they do their homework, take turns reading stories to each other before bed, go for a walk as a family and talk about your day. Write notes of encouragement that can be slipped into a backpack or lunchbox. Ask about upcoming school meetings. Most local elementary schools offer APPT (Academic Parent Teacher Team) meetings three times a year where families can learn about their children’s progress compared with students their age and learn strategies to use at home directly from their child’s teacher. Additionally, every school in Okeechobee hosts family nights throughout the year. Some of these events focus on specific areas of education and some are simply fun evenings to enjoy with your children — all encourage families to interact within their child’s school.

The more you value your child’s education with your words and actions, the more likely they are to succeed in school. Rather than speaking negatively about your child’s learning environment, negating teaching styles or school policies online or in your home, attend PTO, SAC or school board meetings. Join conversations with policymakers and school leaders in a forum where opinions can be discussed and, when necessary, changes made.

November is Family Engagement month in the State of Florida. Make a bold statement for your child’s future by standing together and vowing to be involved in their education. We will all be standing with you.

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