Parents are the first teachers in a child’s life. They hold the key to a child’s past, present and future and know beyond a shadow of a doubt what their children like and dislike ~ baseball or soccer; astronauts or sailors; fantasy or non-fiction. As educators we know that in order to truly impact a child’s educational journey we need to know them as people and as learners. So it makes sense that we involve the people that know them the best in our quest to engage, motivate and inspire our students. Today I had the privilege of participating in a Parent Engagement Forum at the Islamic Center where representatives from various portfolios within our board learned from the Muslim community what, together, we can do to meet the changing needs of today’s students. As our society evolves with advances such as technology and various forms of communication, maintaining the teachings of the Muslim faith becomes increasingly challenging for many families. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that the lines of communication between our parent community and our educators are not only maintained, but strengthened to encompass new learning and richer conversations.
The parents with whom I had the opportunity to talk to have an incredibly high regard for education and place great emphasis on achievement. I was intrigued and impressed with stories of children continuing past secondary school and entering worlds of masters and doctoral degrees. Parents proudly shared their child’s love of reading and asked questions about more challenging texts and strategies to use when encouraging their children to communicate their thinking. Parents, who are also educators in our system, posed thought-provoking inquiries about our support of Canadian born English Language Learners and Newcomer English Language Learners. Our Settlement Workers in Schools were gathering resources and materials to share with colleagues in their agencies with the intent of using them with newcomer families in our schools. The conversations were rich, focused and heart-felt. Many of them were leading into discussions about next steps, not only with our Muslim parent community but with other parent communities.
Engaging our parent community through conversations is the first step in creating a learning community where we combine all of the caring adults in a child’s life in order to work towards success ~ academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually.
I thought my role today was to help parents learn what they could do to support their child with reading and writing, when in fact, I was the one who walked away with new learning in terms of the value of a deeper appreciation for building stronger parent partnerships.
Congratulations and thank –you to the Muslim Educator’s Council for their leadership, vision and commitment to today’s Parent Engagement Forum. Hopefully others will follow your lead!
As a parent, do you take an active role in your child’s education? As an educator do you purposefully engage the parents of the children in your classroom?
Come write with me……