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????