I believe that the level of parent and community involvement is relative to the level of relevant learning for students. Connecting with parents and the community is how school connects to home, which not only extends learning but creates positive relationships.
I believe this because my parents worked long hours and were not available to be involved in my school. I was first to earn a degree on both sides of my family because they still placed value on my education to improve my circumstances from ours when I was a child, they were not aware of what I was learning and how to support me at home. I was expected to just figure out how to be a “good student” on my own and I know now I missed out on a lot of learning opportunities. In contrast, being fortunate enough to be very involved with my children’s school extends conversations, shares culture, solutions to struggles, consistency and supports from home to school which has enrich the learning and development in academics as well as social/emotional growth.
There are many aspects and opportunities for parent and community involvement. For example, site council, parent committees, assistance with office, preparation of instructional materials, event organization, fundraising, family/culture/career sharing, community outreach and service opportunities, parenting and family learning nights, and local environment and community learning.
I’d like to talk about family learning nights as an opportunity to connect school to home academic learning environments. This design provides equitable access for families to explore collaborative learning as a family and school culture. I taught at an elementary school with a population of highly impoverished demographic, as well as located among gang violence in an agricultural community. The academic coordinator planned family math, science, language and cultural nights which allowed the students to return to school with their parents after work hours to experiment in learning centered activities as well as distribute information about the curriculum and resources to support their children at home. These nights may not have had a huge turnout with 20% of our population of 700 students, but in a community with more than 50% with 4th-12th grade education level, this made a considerable impact on the learning of their students and the community around learning. These nights extended the celebration and value of education and established the elementary school as a recognized communal learning environment.