February is National Parent Leadership Month, a time to recognize, honor, and celebrate parents for leadership roles in their homes and communities.
Parents are critical to their children’s success. Your involvement in your student’s education, at school and at home, shows support of the teachers, principal and your child’s school. But most importantly it supports your child. Research shows the more engaged a parent is, the better their child performs in academics, attendance and behavior.
Sometimes parents need additional guidance and instruction. More than a decade ago, the Public Schools of Robeson County established a Parent Student Center to meet that need. The center provides an opportunity for parents to obtain support materials such as dictionaries, testing materials, pens, paper, book bags and almost any material that will improve their child academically. The Parent Student Center shares information that is relevant to a child’s education. This year the focus is Core Curriculum and Essential Standards.
The center began with resource materials and a small monthly meeting with a live satellite feed at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Today the monthly Parent Night welcomes up to 300 family members at the Southeastern North Carolina Agricultural Events Center.
The Parent Night is hosted from October through June. Each event offers something educational for parents and children. The Parent Night coordinator, Amy Haigler, gives participants reading materials, games, family activities and even incentives for a job well done.
The monthly event also features a speaker who discusses information relevant to Common Core, such as Future for Kids, English Language Arts, Arts Education, Math, Social Studies and Career and Technical Education.
For parents who want to begin anew in helping their students, you can start today. Learning does not have to be homework time at the dinner table. Learning can begin in a grocery store by allowing your child to calculate food cost or read road signs on the way home. Parents ask questions of what your child reads. Extend those questions beyond yes and no answers. Engage the student by having them predict the end of a story or write a new one.
Many parents often ask “how was school today?” Instead parents should ask, “what did you do today” or “explain to me how you know how to work that problem.” Hearing the child’s answer offers an opportunity to help correct mistakes. Parents can see or hear where a child added instead of dividing or listen for context clues in reading comprehension. These are perfect opportunities to extend your child’s vocabulary. Parents can suggest a variety of words instead of saying OK all the time.
Sometimes children feel they understood what the teacher was talking about, but at home they need more explanation. When a parent is not engaged, children tend to give up easier. But it only takes a little time from you to move them through their work and remind them they have you as a resource.
The Public Schools of Robeson County Parent Student Center will soon be featured across the state in a Parent and Community Engagement Video on the N.C. Department of Public Instruction website. It will illustrate what effective parent involvement should be.
For Parenting Night dates or information, call 910-735-2190 or visit http://www.robeson.k12.nc.us/Domain/45.
Johnny Hunt is superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County.