Parenting Changes That Impact The Classroom

Santrock (2013) highlights a study showing that parents ‘spend less than half as much time with their children aged 5 to 12 in caregiving, instruction, reading, talking and playing as when the children were younger’ but their importance remains steady (p 405).  This statistic is startling, because I already feel that I don’t spend enough time with my four year-old, and I can’t imagine dropping interaction much further.  Yet, I can listen to my students and relate to the study’s findings.  It is not uncommon for me to encounter a pupil who will casually mention to his friend that he hasn’t seen a parent or sibling for ‘two or three days’ due to overlapping responsibilities, including work hours.  In these instances, I imagine it is very difficult for the parents to act as ‘managers of children’s opportunities’  and ‘ensure homework was completed, [restrict] time on video games, and participate in positive dialogue with teachers’ (Santrock, 2013, p. 406).

 

When the lack of monitoring is there, we as educators can begin to fill that role.  Certainly teachers already assess student progress academically, and these same teachers show an interest in extracurriculars, achievements, and so forth.  But perhaps the strongest waves can be felt with a simple ‘How was your weekend?’ or ‘Did you do anything exciting recently?’ or ‘Are you feeling okay today?’  When I taught juniors, I liked to casually discuss post-graduate progress because simple questions about college selection, signing up for tests, or looking into monetary opportunities might not yet be on their radar if their parents do not have experience with them or are not there to provide support.  I also make it a habit to initiate positive dialogue with parents, such as praise for when a struggling student has been conscientious about work, to ensure that channels of communication are open; perhaps that little note might even spark a positive dialogue at home in the family sphere.

 

What I found interesting was Santrock’s (2013) discussion of peer status, specifically ‘neglected’ (not disliked) vs ‘rejected’ (disliked).  Although ‘neglected’ children were defined as being shy, it was the ‘rejected’ students who identified as feeling the most isolated.  The studies cited by Santrock (2013) suggest social training to address the issue, but I believe providing a safe, caring environment for the student would have to be present first, before it would be beneficial to discuss peer interaction.  It’s not a mere issue of learning how to ‘fit a mold’ – it’s first understanding that you are valued and warrant the same respect as others, and only then are you well-equipped to bestow that same respect; I wouldn’t want to necessarily play nice around a group of people that I felt were judging me or looked down on me, either!  Students don’t care until they know how much you care.

 

Santrock, J. W. (2013).  Children.  New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

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