Parents as Their Child’s First Teacher
Author’s Note: Guest bloggers, Janis Baron, Founder and Board President, and Ali Barekat, Executive Director of Sunday Friends (www.SundayFriends.org) in San Jose, California, contributed to the second of this two-part series.
As parents gain the skills and confidence to become effective role models and academic support partners in their children’s learning, the very low-income parents and children of the Sunday Friends program earn redeemable tickets for their participation in community service and learning activities. The redeemable tickets can be saved in interest bearing bank accounts and used for purchases. The purchases can include subsidized rent funding, personal necessity products, toys, learning games, clothing, household items, and school supplies. Free food and books are also offered to all program participants.
This school-hosted parent partnership program is unique because it provides the family with an essential community of life skills support, mentorships, and economic sustainability. Most program parents know that devoting their attention to their children’s development and education is important. When most of their time, attention, and energy are devoted to their daily survival, there is little left to offer to themselves, their families, and their future. By earning basic necessitates through program participation, parents are able to open to changing and learning with their children. At the same time, through the earning structure of the program, families are practicing the most essential aspects of financial literacy. Program outcomes include:
- Less stress and increased trust in the program’s community of learners
- Increased self-worth and stronger work ethic
- Increased family time for play, healthy cooking, and exercise with reduced television viewing
- Increased family time for talking and homework support
- Increased random acts of kindness among family members as parents value their children’s random acts of kindness.
- Increased writing abilities as families write reflective essays on workshops topics
- Increased cultural competence of parents to expand on their knowledge base and to strengthen their parenting commitments
- Increased parent leadership in the program, at schools, and within the community
When parents first join the program, they feel isolated from other parents and the school. These parents fear that the schools have little regard for them and their abilities to support the academic learning of their children. When parents find a welcoming and respectful environment, they can grow from a positive place and share with their children. They are able to form a community of support that sustains themselves and other families. Second generations of families come back for ongoing networking and program support to break the cycle of poverty and succeed in education. Program parents gain stability in their lives and an increased ability to manage their money. This increased confidence ensures that their children will succeed in life and families can devote more attention to managing their future.
When considering the successes of this relevant program, what can you do to change the learning environment of your children’s school to ensure that all students and their families are successful and prone to random acts of kindness? If you contributed an hour a week in helping your children’s friends with tutorial support, providing carpools with loving dialogue, and participating in after school activities, what impact would you have in your community’s sustainability? Please share your reflections about this blog in the comments section as we strive to support all of our community’s families in healthy growth and academic success.
We love and respect for all!
Mary Ann, Janis, and Ali
Copyright © 2016 by GenParenting
Mary Ann Burke, Ed.D., Digital Education Expert, is a substitute distance learning teacher for Oak Grove School District in San Jose, California and the author of STUDENT-ENGAGED ASSESSMENT: Strategies to Empower All Learners (Rowman & Littlefield: 2020). Dr. Burke creates digital language arts and substitute teaching K – 12 activities for teachers and parents. She is the Cofounder of the Genparenting.com blog. Burke is the former Director II of Categorical & Special Projects for the Santa Clara County Office of Education that supports 31 school districts serving 272,321 students in Santa Clara County. She is also a previous Director – State & Federal Compliance for Oakland Unified School District, the former Director – Grantwriter for the Compton Unified School District, and was the initial VISTA Director for the Community Partnership Coalition in southern California. Much of her work focuses on creating innovative digital trainings and partnership programs for teachers and families to support students’ learning. These programs were featured as a best practice at a National Title I Conference, California’s Title I Conferences, AERA Conferences, an ASCD Conference, the NASSP Conference, and statewide educator conferences.