Sunday, January 21, 2007


I am having such a hard time this year with my students' academic status. While my students have been making steady progress, most of them are not near where they need to be. I have been trying all kinds of tricks to see what makes them motivated and eager to learn. What I have found out is that they are motivated and eager to please me but they don't have a strong academic background at home to carry through with what we learn at school. Most (if not all) of the academic stimulation they get is from school.

I have been very surprised this year to find that most of the parents of my students aren't doing too much at home with the kids. They aren't even helping with homework. I send home a packet once a week so that parents have the time and opportunity to work together with their kids. Unfortunately, when the packets come back. they are not signed by parents. There are pages that are incomplete and unchecked by a family member. I simply can't understand this. Sabi receives homework on a daily basis. I make sure to review it with her each and every day. I also have her make any necessary corrections before turning it in so she can receive immediate feedback and learn from her errors. Yes, this can sometimes be difficult due to our schedule but it is my responsibility!

I realize that I do need to take into account that the work my students take home may be challenging for their parents. Half of the parents in my room are not strong English speakers. Being fluent in English does not necessarily mean they can help though. Last month an English Only speaking parent, who does help her son at home with homework, questioned me on a reading comprehension activity I sent home on Inference. She told me "I tried to help **** but the homework don't got no answers that are right." I then had to give mom a mini lesson on inference and tell her that she would not find the exact answer in the text and that they would have to process the information and figure out which answer made the most logical sense given the scenario. She then apologized to me and said "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't graduate from no high school and I don't know too much." (Bless her heart!) Several issues here: 1) Grammar 2) She doesn't have a sound academic foundation to carry through newly learned concepts at home. I am extremely grateful for parents like this one I mentioned because they do value education and know how important it is. On the other hand, I feel even more helpless as a teacher when I know that so many of my parents have such great academic defecits because I know that in order for their kids to succeed I am going to have to work overtime with their kids.

I have been giving some thought into holding a parent academy to try and help my parents to hellp their kids with their homework. I know that if I can give them the tools that they lack, many of them will go home and do what they can to follow through with their kids. The problem with this parent academy is that I would have to take more time away from my own family to help these other families. While I know the benefits would be so great, I can't help but feel selfish with my time. After working all day with the kids and then a few more hours without the kids, it is all I can do to keep my energy up and have some quality time with my own child.

What is the solution????


Anonymous said...

Do most of your parents read? I send home a "Friday Letter" most weeks that has a paragraph about what we've done that week and what's coming up the next week. Then I list suggestions for learning at home, related to what we've done in class. Things like, "put the pennies and dimes from your pocket on the table every night next week and count them with your child", "Use the enclosed ruler to measure 10 things at home", "Turn off the sound during commercials in a TV show to ask what will happen next, who the main characters are, how the story will end", etc. Some parents don't read it, but some do, and try to follow suggestions.

MsAbcMom said...

I have thought about writing a weekly letter. I have three parents who would read it in English and 1 who would actually follow through. If I were to write it in Spanish I would be able to pick up about 5 more parents who would follow through. The problem is that it would take me a long time to write it both in English and Spanish. Overall, my Spanish is fine but I don't know the Spanish that is content related for what we do in class. I just keep trying to do mini lesson with parents as I cath them after school

Mrs. T said...

First of all, it is NOT selfish of you to consider the very real limits of time. You said yourself that it's hard to help with Sabi's homework because of your schedules. Imagine adding a parent academy on top of this! Bless you for wanting to do this, but you've got a child of your own who needs you. Maybe when she's a bit older you can devote more time to something like a parent academy, but for right now, I'm sure your plate is plenty full.
Is there any kind of education agency that supports local school districts or an outreach program or extension office through a local university that could help out? Maybe some university students who need service hours?

Julissa said...

How old are your students? Kelly, although my parents were not English speaking I made sure to tell them that they had to sign my packet and explained why. Grant it, I think that if we didn't have it signed we wouldn't get the 10 extra bonus points or something similar.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Perhaps you could do a once a month session with all the parents to explain the guidelines to them broadly and then follow up the next month and so on. It's probably a good compromise between nothing at all and daily or weekly meetings with parents.

Two cents from a mom with no experience in the education sector. :)