How can our concerned parents be quite effective in helping our struggling students while working to maintain the cognitive thrive of our academically excelled ones? It has never been an easy task, especially for parents who lack the “acceptable” level of involvement in the educational process. Adding to the challenge is the economic difficulties that many minority parents face. Most of our inner-city parents—overwhelmingly minorities (immigrants or otherwise)—do not seem to have the privilege to offer ample academic time that parenting requires in urban America. They have to work, and sometimes two jobs just to make ends meet.
Knowledge is power, and those who know are always the ones in the position to lead. It’s hard to imagine in today’s society, an individual without a college degree playing a professional role either in the service industry or the corporate world. Furthermore, without a professional job, what is left out there is not enough to survive decently in the fringe of society.
The parent role
When I say it is strategically necessary for parents to get involved, I truly stress on the word “necessary,” for parental involvement goes hand-in-hand with the fostering of academic excellence. Now, how can our parents be effective in the process? Public education is not what it used to be. It is no longer an only-teacher-directed endeavor, it is now a process designed to build a teaching environment much more conducive to learning.
How do our parents help? Besides a strong desire to see our children succeed and the proactive approach towards homework assignments, a parent can work to understand the school culture—how to be part of RTI (Response to Intervention), MIT (Multiple Intelligences Theory), etc… RTI is good for academically-challenged students whose behaviors are emphatically at odds with cognitive success. MIT is great, for it teaches parents as well as classroom teachers how to come up with engaging activities that foster a holistic participation.
Hands-on approaches based on multiple intelligences, according to Theisen, 1997, offer a kinesthetic option to our struggling students. Kinesthetic learners assimilate new knowledge more efficiently through physical work, allowing them to use manipulatives, building dioramas, working with scale models, or role-playing a situation as opposed to learning through simply hearing or seeing a lesson like most of their classmates do.
Above all, every parent has a responsibility to make sure that his or her child is being properly taught in order to be able to meet the challenges of tomorrow. So parents, get involved.
Note: Dr. Ardain Isma teaches Cross-Cultural Studies at University of North Florida (UNF). He is also a novelist and a scholar. He is the Chief Editor for CSMS Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org