Thinking back on when I brought her home, I was ill-equipped for parenthood. I was a freshman in college and thought I knew so much. Less than two years later, my son was a welcomed addition to our family and six months after that, I was a single mom. I know the struggle, so I never take questions about parental engagement lightly. I know what it is like to worry about babysitting when you cannot afford to pay rent and pay childcare cost. I remember praying for financial relief when my bank account was overdrawn. I have worked third shift, menial jobs to hardly provide for my children. I’ve been the most educated person in the room without a degree and the lowest salary. I’ve lived in conditions that resembled war zones because of affordability. I completely grasp the challenges of being a single mother.
However, with being said, the expectations and standards for parental involvement do not diminish because of poor decision-making or lack of resources. You must be present in your child’s educational career. Working multiple jobs does not remove this obligation. You have to decide their life is more valuable than any other priority. This begins by being organized and using strategies that are readily available.
Strategies for Parental Involvement:
1. Get organized — You have to use your time wisely. If you are working multiple jobs, this may not be much, but you have to allocate time for connecting with teachers and engaging with your children about school.
2. Send a proxy — You can always send a representative. Ask your mom or dad about visiting the school. If you have a close friend you trust, perhaps they are willing to assist. If you do not trust your close friends then maybe you need to reconsider the status of your relationships.
3. Write in your child’s planner — Most children come home everyday with a planner. It takes less than five minutes to review the notes in your child’s planner. Make this a part of your daily routine.
4. Send text messages — Give your child’s teacher your accurate cell phone number. The teacher will always contact you if there is a problem but you may be lucky enough to have a teacher who will send a text message about good days as well. Some instructors are not comfortable with parents having their personal numbers. You will need to check with you child’s teacher.
5. Send emails — Most of us have email access on our mobile phones. Make sure the teacher has that email address and not the email you check one time per week.
6. Visit on off days — Typically, when working odd shifts, you may have a day off during the week. Before you take a nap and catch up on needed rest, visit your child’s school.
7. Class connection apps — Most classroom teachers have a classroom connection app, get connected. This is a tool for connecting with teachers and reviewing classwork / homework assignments. Most are efficient and easy to use.
The key to parental involvement is building relationships. Even if you are a busy mom with no time for school visits, you must build a relationship with you child’s teachers. Together, you create the educational team. Your child is the most important member of the team and you are the second most important participant. Your child’s educational success depends on your level of involvement: their life depends on your commitment.
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Originally published at medium.com