Parent-Teacher Involvement – Where is it?

After spending the entire day enjoying the rains, I finally got into the mood for post something on my blog. I then happened to remember about a post that I had read yesterday on gothamschools.org on how a fifth-grader spent his summer vacation on worksheets by Philissa Cramer.

I wanted to write about this because this system is not something that is unique to this school. This is a common practice in many schools, not only in the US, but also in other countries across the globe. I still remember my school days where my math teacher used to give us a huge bundle of assignment sheets (at least 500 sums in them!) as vacation activity. My science teacher used to give us cartloads of materials to read and write about. Since I did my schooling at a time where the Internet not available, it was particularly hard getting resources and assistance for these assignments. Not many of my friends were lucky enough to have teacher’s or parent’s support in these activities.

Even today, a number of school students from the US and UK approach me with their vacation assignments. The following is an extract from a worksheet of one of my students. This assignment had around 150 questions in it! The student was particularly frustrated with it and said that she just wants to get over with it. I was able to observe that she was in no mood to learn about the answers. I don’t think the school’s intended objective is achieved here.

Assignment extract

Since this practice is still being carried out in a number of schools worldwide, I wanted to share my views and ideas on this topic.

To begin with, I do appreciate the efforts of schools to keep the students engaged with academic pursuits during the summer vacations. The problem here is that most of them get it done in the wrong way.

I was particularly impressed by a comment on that blog post by Miss Eyre, where she suggests that the children can be given gift certificates for the money equivalent charged by the school on dull worksheets as “parent-involvement resource.”

However, many schools have this method interlaced into their way of functioning and it is hard to get them to change. In my opinion, Miss Eyre’s idea can be combined with the current system. The students can be given gift certificates and be asked to buy materials/books/resources required by them. The students can then use these to do a holiday project related to their curriculum and also prepare a short write-up on it. The teachers can give some ideas and set some parameters for this project.

This, I feel, will give a more practical exposure to the students, in terms of reading, writing and actually “doing” something. This should also enhance the student’s interaction with their parents and peers and in this process will get to learn a lot. Worksheets can be done by students as a part of their homework during regular school. Teachers and schools should explore the possibilities of making students learn and simultaneously enjoy their learning experience during their vacations.

Another comment was posted on that blog by Kelly, giving some wonderful ideas on engaging children in education through fun during vacations. She has stressed the role of summer camps in creating an engaging atmosphere for learning and also a possible summer leap/summer slide among those who attend it and those who don’t.

I do agree with Kelly’s comments on the role of summer camps in creating a very congenial atmosphere for learning through fun. However, I feel that even a child who doesn’t attend these camps can learn a lot during their summer. All they require is the enthusiastic support from their teachers and parents.

In my opinion, a teacher can identify such students and can give them ideas on similar lines which you had mentioned in Kelly’s comment. I have been conducting summer science workshops for kids for quite sometime now and I personally feel that even a child who doesn’t attend these camps can gain an experience on par with those attending camps.

One issue here might be the lack of group activities. Children can be motivated to form small work groups and work on such projects. They can assign tasks among themselves and collaborate upon a project. Parents can assist them in their group activities and with their encouragement and support; I don’t think such kids will be left out.

What do you think?

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Published in: on August 21, 2010 at 20:35  Leave a Comment  
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