Parental involvement is the one of the most important elements in a child’s education. If a parent is more involved with his/her child’s school experience, then that child is more likely to leave school with the tools s/he needs to succeed in life. In kindergarten, that means that if a parent is more involved with his/her child’s school experience, then that child is more likely to leave the classroom knowing how to read by the end of the year.
Right now I’m reading the book Great Habits, Great Readers by some of the folks at UnCommon Schools. The basic premise is that education, like sport, requires the right habits and regular practice. As an educator, I help set the habits and I provide some room for practice. But a parent has greater opportunity for one-on-one interaction with a child and a greater opportunity to practice these skills. When a child goes home at night, that is their chance to hone their skills for the next day.
Which brings me to a former student of mine who’s currently enrolling in first grade. This child is smart and sweet, but he doesn’t like to work. Even with Title I services twice a week and one-on-one time with my assistant, it was like pulling teeth to get this child to attempt to read a short story. Even simple games focused on letter sounds would be warped into new storylines to suit his moods. I had suggested and pleaded with mom to send him to our half-day summer school program, but he never came. I can’t say I was surprised when I read the text message yesterday that said his new school suggested he might be better suited in kindergarten again.
It breaks my heart to think that he may be held back. I really don’t like the idea of holding any child back. No, this child isn’t really mature enough for first grade, but what does his mom do if he isn’t ready again after this year? What does that mean for his long-term trajectory? Yet when book after book and worksheet after worksheet returned to school this year without being completed and phone call after phone call resulted in the same “I’ll work with him” response, I’m not so sure what else I could have done for this child short of picking him up and tutoring him every Saturday and I’m not so sure what else there is to do now.
As we approach a new school year, it’s my goal to build great habits not only within my students, but within their parents as well. Almost all of my students have left my classroom reading over the past two years. This year my goal is 100 percent. What I’ve learned over the past two years is that I cannot get their alone.