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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

School? Why be involved? (as a parent)

WHY SHOULD PARENTS be involved? Are we hovering and stealing our children's independence? Or, are we guiding them into adulthood as they learn their way to making the right life decisions?

It's my day to bring the snack for story time for my daughter’s kindergarten class. I’ve also chosen two new and brightly illustrated books to read to the class. As I open the door and walk into the class the children stop what they are doing and rush to my side. They are so excited to see me and I’m covered in hugs while the room rings out with happy voices exclaiming, “Hi, Aubree’s mom!”

The simplest thing brings them such joy and their happiness melts a parent’s heart. The children love it when the parents participate in their activities.

Why is it that parents seemed to be involved when the children are so small, and yet as they enter middle school and high school parents are often far and few within the walls of the school?

Sara Lise Raff is an education consultant and parent of three children. She shares that taking an interest in what your child cares about is the best praise a parent can give. While an at’ta boy is appreciated by your children, your actual presence and involvement in what they are doing makes a larger impact.

In order to help our children grow and develop independence and self-assertiveness, we need to let them go out into the world, be themselves and make decisions for themselves. However, as they are still young and naïve we are challenged with protecting them from the negative influences children might not pick up on.

School is a another world, if you will, from the life we provide our child within the home. Children often behave entirely differently in school, as well as extra curricular activities. Sweet, shy little Miranda might be the bossy click leader. Scholastically inclined Michael might be the school nerd everyone loves to play pranks on.

Kids are categorized by their peers and this often impacts them negatively. When looking for a ‘league’ of their own they might find themselves drawn in by drugs or alcohol. In order to step out of their class or to maintain their status, they are often more likely to cave to peer pressure and participate in sexual or dangerous activities.

Being an involved parent doesn’t mean you are a ‘helicopter’ parent. It just means that you are supporting your child while educating yourself daily on who your child’s peers are and what is really going on in the culture of your child’s school and within their extracurricular activities. In her book, Bringing Up Geeks , Marybeth Hicks clarifies this concept as a hands on approach.

A hands on approach to parenting is being intimately involved in the lives of our children from their school to their neighborhood, to their extracurricular activities and social lives. Marybeth adds that hands on parenting does not mean that we are going to raise dependent children who can't think or act for themselves, but that we are always around in some appropriate, supervisory capacity.

Hands on parenting includes attending sporting events, chauffeuring the drive to the school dance, helping with homework, keeping an open line of communication with their teachers, knowing our children's friends and knowing the parents of their friends.

Joe Bruzzee, M.A., author of The Parent's Guide to the Middle School Years and parent coach, supports this with his T.E.A.M. approach. He encouraged parents to stay connected with their child's life by building a TEAM that includes anyone who has the ability to Teach, Encourage, Advocate for or Motivate your child. The Team includes teachers, coaches, and mentors.

Through ongoing communication including emails in addition to the face-to-face conversation, parents are able to build a relationship with the valuable members who have insight into the daily events that shape and mold our children.

While our children are learning and stretching the apron strings on their way to their own independence and adulthood, they are exposed to varying values, influences, and paths along the way. Involved parenting enables us to be knowledgeable about these variants so that we are able to guide our children into well-rounded, independent, successful adults.

This article was originally written for <a href=">Root & Sprout</a>. As R&S is making it's way back and taking on a new shape and form, I wanted to publish this here to share and to thank my sources and experts who shared their thoughts with me.

Happy Hump-Day! I finally got my Diggity back! [Except chicken, and no creamy pasta in the diet for awhile; oh, and no tea....] LOL!



Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

not even tea???????????

Farmer*swife said...

Gary, Tea was part of the ramen noodle upchuck... so, my tummy and my brain have banned tea for awhile.

And, I love tea... All, Southern and all....

kcinnova said...

Finally getting around to reading some backposts from this week!

When we attend back-to-school nights around here, the plea always goes up for help with middle school and HS PTA involvement. My kids span the entire range from elementary to high school, so I join all the PTA's but only have limited time for activity. Soooo, here is my breakdown:
4th grader gets parent classroom volunteering (help with class "store", parties, and field trips), middle school includes field day helps and assisting with special food events (teacher luncheons, monthly cupcakes for birthday kids). High school gets more complicated as my help focuses on the activities my kids participate in... I attend all the cross-country meets I can make it to (I'll travel an hour or so, but that's about my limit because there are other kids in the family). My marching band kids see plenty of me since that is my biggest involvement. And since I have 2 kids graduating soon (class of 2010 and 2011) I'm participating in PTA planning & help with the big After-Grad night (I did this last year as a trial-run so I'd know what to expect for the next 2 years).

The bonus to being involved is that you get to meet the other parents and all of your kids' friends.

Anonymous said...

Great article and VERY true!