Throughout history humans have learnt by experiencing, seeing and doing. These life experiences start in the home and continue throughout your life. As a social creature, humans have typically learnt in a community environment where parents and older relations pass down their knowledge and expertise to the younger generations. This model continued for generations until the industrial revolution forced the population from the countryside to cities. This concentration of people forced us to think about how we educate our children. This led to the model of state education and the notion that parents should not be as involved in the education of their children. This could be left to the state to control the content and structure of the curriculum. These national curriculums are a good way to standardize and ensure consistency of the education received by the mass of the population. However, research suggests that when parents play a larger role in the education of their children, the more the child will receive and the better they will do in their academic career. Therefore, you must ask yourself; what role can parents play in the education of their children? Can they support the school community?
Many schools have a teacher / parent group or association where parents play an active role in the running of events and activities within the school. At One World International School we have an involved group of parents who form the ‘Parents & Friends Association (PFA)’. This PFA is involved with helping the school organize and assist in school events such as Halloween discos, summer fairs and major performances. The PFA meets on a monthly basis during which not only do they help organize these events but also make suggestions for improvement within the school. At One World International School one of the major chances suggested by the PFA was the timings of our lunchtime, in which students eat at the end of the lunchtime instead of at the start. Because of this change the learning of the students in the afternoon has improved with more focused and energized students.
As a learning community some of our most important learning opportunities come from assemblies and the celebration of different cultures and festivals. Parents can pay a major role in these activities to demonstrate to their children the importance of their culture and or religion. Throughout the year a school should provide these opportunities for the whole school community to come together and learn from each other.
However, parents are more usually involved with learning through the process of homework. This learning can either be painful or pleasurable for some parents, but it is an important part of your role as an educator. Spending time with your child as they progress through their homework is an important way in which you can impart your knowledge and experiences of your world. I remember vividly a project my daughter was doing on our family tree and the excitement and interest she had when I described the experiences my grandfather had through World War II. This was a person who she only met as a baby and has no relocation of him apart from our time talking about him during this project. Home reading is another great way in which you can make a great difference to your child’s learning. Over my many years of teaching, it is very obvious to me which children have the regular help of parents. These students often have a more profound love of reading as they have a social connection as well as an enjoyment of the book.
At One World International School one of the most important help we receive from the parents is when they actually come into the classroom and explain to the students what they do as a career and share some of their experiences of their chosen profession. These interactions have always been popular with students as these first-hand experiences of an actual profession allow the children to put their learning into content and sometimes give them a dream of following that profession in the future.
The other way parents can help in a learning community is the giving of time. In every school there is a multitude of tasks and the giving of a few hours in the week is always appreciated. Form my own experience this time can be given in helping in the library, the first aid room, some administrative roles and even the running of clubs and groups in and after school. I am sure we all know someone who is coaching or training a sport team. All this time given is important in the life of a student as they see commitment and usually passion for the activity in which the parent is involved.
Even in our busy lives it is important to be involved in your child’s education as the more you put in the more your child will get out of education as they too see the importance of being a life-long learner.