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Nuts & Bolts: Monthly Parent Meetings

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Parent Meetings

I believe that education should not be prescribed to students by their teacher. Instead, teachers, parents, and children should work together as a team to best support each student's learning needs. In order for this to work there needs to be many forums for parent/teacher/student communication. Traditionally teachers have isolated themselves in their classrooms with their students. Communication with parents happened only during short formal conferences and when report cards were distributed (unless of course their was a behavior problem). This is a somewhat prescriptive format and allows for little parental participation.

To include parents as partners in their child's education at school without requiring them to volunteer a set number of hours, and to better take advantage of the multiple years that families are a part of my classroom, I have instituted monthly parent meetings. I use these meetings as a forum centering on the classroom and on educational issues. These meetings frequently have a core group of parents attending while others participate as they can. These meetings are of course open to all. I have loosely set this up as an advisory committee complete with a chairperson, secretary, and treasurer. By giving much of the control of the meetings to my students' parents, I find that I get substantially better attendance, feedback, and volunteerism. Of course I also use the meetings as an opportunity to "educate" the parents about multiage practices, student learning, and education in general.

Recently I have begun a "Parent Book Club" in which all of the parents who wish to read a specific book in a certain time span (about 100 pages per month seems to work well). At the end of our monthly parent meetings we spend anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour discussing the book and how what we've learned fits with our classroom, our school district, and our state's educational agenda. So far this has been quite successful. It seems to increase the number of participants at the meetings while at the same time opening the eyes of parents as to some of the inner workings of our country's educational system. The books we've read so far can be found at the bottom of the Multiage Bookstore page.

Most parents want to be involved as much as possible in their child's education. Giving them greater access to decision making and a forum to directly and frequently communicate with their child's teacher can only support their efforts.

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