Parental involvement in education (or lack of) shapes one’s choices in regards to their own education. Some, like me, have made sacrifices and choices to push all the way through college despite not having active parents leading the way. Usually, not because they (parents) didn’t want to be involved but they just didn’t know how to help. Others are extremely grateful for their parents’ support. They admit that they would have been lost without their parents’ initiative to get them their scholarship applications, college prep test study guides or simply insist their homework be done each night.
Before my son was even school-aged, I was already involved. I asked other parents a lot of questions about what their experiences were. Did they send their kids to public, private or charter schools? Did they do ‘after-schooling’? Did they volunteer in classrooms? When did they start talking to their kids about college? … You get the picture.
One day, I was volunteering at a foster home and I began a conversation with another volunteer who shared with me that he was a retired teacher and his daughter was about to enter school. We had a wonderful conversation about his experiences as a teacher and what his plans were for his daughter’s education. I was still left … worried. Would I make the right choices? He then said to me,
No matter which road you choose, if you are as passionate about your son’s education when he’s actually in school as you are right now, he will already be at an advantage.
He told me that as a teacher, the students who struggled the most were, time and time again, the ones whose parents were not in communication with him at all. His words have stayed with me through our homeschooling, charter school stint and back to homeschooling.
As a homeschool parent, I’m obviously hands on with my sons’ education. However, I also spend time volunteering with organizations like Latism (Latinos in Tech Innovation and Social Media); as an SA2020 Ambassador; and on the Diplomas communications committee. In all of these organizations, my time is focused on forwarding the (mostly) Latinos students through college. That effort doesn’t begin in high school but in Pre-K and elementary schools. Getting Latino students ready for college begins, truly, at home with the parents just before they enter school. Univision’s STATE OF EDUCATION Panel suggested that students begin school at age of 3.
— Melanie/QueMeansWhat (@mendezgonzales) October 4, 2013
If it’s not an option to send them, start teaching them at home.
Through my volunteer work, I seek ways that parents and school systems can partner together to support their students to reach their full potential. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of encouraging the parent to visit with the teacher or to ask each of them to make themselves available to one another. Sometimes, it requires the parents to demand change within the schools. If language is a barrier, parents and students must insist on getting help. Let’s not let it be because the parents are not willing to work with the teachers. It really does take a village to get our students ready, in and through college.
I take my job as a parent-teacher very seriously. However, it doesn’t stop with my just my children. Sharing information, volunteering and encouraging others through their education career will only help benefit our community as a whole. Latinos students are entering college in record numbers and by 2050 make up 30% of the US working age population according to the Census Bureau. The time is now to ensure Latino students reach their potential and receive a quality education. ¡Es el momento!
If you are a parent, how do you stay involved in your child’s education? If you are a student, how can parents support you through your education?
Let’s continue the conversation online. Find me @mendezgonzales on Twitter and join me, @Latism and @EsElMomento for a Twitter Party celebrating Univision’s Education Week. We will touch on parental involvement, resources and much more.
Have a student ready for college? Join Univision’s FREE Virtual College Fair this Thursday from 11am CST – 9pm CST.