The New Crusade: Parent Involvement

Article excerpt

Lack of parental interest in schooling and support for education is a frequently mentioned problem in national teachers' surveys. A 1992 study, Voices from the Classroom, conducted by Sylvan Learning Centers and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, reported that the level of parental involvement with children and schools should be higher than it is. In recent years, several research studies have indicated that the benefits of parental involvement include raising achievement levels and improving the attitudes of parents towards schools and teachers.

Like many teachers frustrated by the lack of parental involvement in the education process, I believe our number one priority in public school education is to reinvolve all parents in the education of their children. We need to have parents working with their children, communicating with their children's teachers and participating in their children's schools and classrooms.

Parental involvement Practices

To act on this belief, I surveyed over two hundred Ohio elementary art teachers to determine what parental involvement practices they were using and which ones they found to be most successful. The survey results indicated that these teachers were using a wide variety of parental involvement activities. The most popular activity was participating in traditional parental organizations such as the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) or the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO), which support the art program through fundraising, collecting and providing art materials, and by becoming the audience for exhibits and programs.

A large percentage of the teachers reported that they met regularly with parents to communicate about students. This was accomplished Through art room open houses, parent/ teacher conferences and planned parental visits during art classes. Many also reported communication with parents through notes, telephone calls, art newsletters or school newspapers.

Art Enrichment Activities

Over half of those surveyed indicated that they suggest or provide art enrichment activities for students and their families to do at home. These activities range from information on upcoming television shows about art to schedules of museum exhibits that the family might attend.

Having parents visit the classroom to teach lessons, speak on special art topics or act as aides during studio sessions was also popular in over half of these Ohio art classrooms. Some parents, who were artists, shared their skills and artworks, while others spoke on art careers and art in the community. Several teachers reported the existence of "Art lady" or "MiniMuseum" programs in which parental organizations purchase art reproductions and train parents to analyze and discuss these artworks with the students, emphasizing art history and art criticism. Grandparents were also included in similar programs.

Banquets and Awards

Ceremonies for the Arts

More than one-third of these teachers reported parental participation in an arts banquet or awards ceremony where art students who worked hard and were successful were honored for their achievements. Some of these occasions were held in conjunction with other school programs, such as sports events, and some were held for the arts alone. …