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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Parent Involvement III

I seem to be returning to this topic often. Parent Involvement/Engagement.

How do you measure parent involvement? Where do you measure parent involvement?

The Ministry of Education has mandated that boards and schools must increase their parent involvement in the schooling environment. Where is this best placed and determined?

The first place to look would be in the home. Parents asking & reviewing their child’s learning for the day. The everyday challenge of getting their child to get their homework (homeschooling) done. How is this to be possible with the desire to reduce if not eliminating homework? Until we get an open learning environment established at school and at home students do not/will not have the self desire to learn at home what is being taught at school.  Maybe that is what parents can do at home is create an environment for self learning.

Next would be parents coming into the school to help/volunteer in the classroom. Many parents feel comfortable coming into primary & junior classrooms and teachers are enjoying these extra hands but can you see a parent coming into a Grade 11 Biology class? First, the parent may not feel knowledgeable enough to help, the teachers may not want help and the student certainly does not want mom or dad around. Also many parents do not have the freedom to come into the school due to work, family or other commitments. How does the teacher use the parent volunteer, do they feel valued?

School SAC’s are another avenue. Whether it is giving input/developing school and board policy, organizing an event or fundraising, parents can lend a voice or hand. SAC’s and individual parents need to find their niche within the school and determine what works best. We will have to wait and see as PIC’s evolve how SAC’s evolve.

Does parent involvement need to be legislated/mandated? Probably not, but it does need to be supported at whatever area and level one wishes to become involved at. A 'one system for all' does not work for parent involvement. Parent involvement most remain voluntary.


  1. It is good to know that you are an advocate of parent involvement in the school,as well as the school engaging with the home. This is all part of the relationship between school and community.

    AMDSB has shown no regard for community in the past and this has been reflected in the attitudes of many teachers. I have heard teachers complain about having to participate in the community since they live elsewhere and have no interest in the local community.

    The closure of the only schools in so many communities confirms this chronic indifference to community on the part of AMDSB, a principle on which the school system of Ontario was established.

    Robert, I wish you well in your mission to forge a solid link between schools and communities. It will be especially difficult to achieve in a community like Blyth where we will have no school and no effective representation on the board.

    Brock Vodden

  2. Spoken well, Robert. I have been watching the ups and downs of PICs since they started up. I was a member on a newly established one in 2006. I always worried about what the message would be to parents, and who the message should be delivered by. Similar to your points: We can’t always tell parents how and what to do for their involvement. We can provide supports and options and invites, but I think we have to be careful how we approach it. I hope the PIC’s weren’t set up with the expectation to address things that they may never be able to address or control. There is a lot that parent committees can do to support the student-parent-school link but it may not be things you can measure and track…but is nonetheless good for our students and communities whatever it looks like. Yes, the support will only be as effective as it is supported.