As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I volunteer at the school a couple hours a week helping my kid’s teachers. Usually, I am sitting in break room stapling, sorting, cutting out laminated items, etc., but every once in a while I spend time helping the teacher in the classroom. So my husband and I recently had a discussion that turned into a debate about parent volunteers in the classes. We are very fortunate to have our children in an excellent public school. The school has an outstanding staff and a great deal of parent involvement. Both things I feel are vital for excellent schools.
The debate began when my husband and I started talking about parents in the classroom. Jonathan (a.k.a. the husband) does not recall parents helping in classrooms when we were younger. His opinion is, since it is a public school, parents should be able to help at the school but not in the classrooms. Why? He feels public schools are meant to be equal for all children. Therefore, it is not fair that one child’s mother can help due to a flexible work schedule and another child’s parent cannot due to a different work schedule. There may be one child that their parent’s inability to help at the school really has an effect on.
His thought is valid in my opinion, but I think the benefit of having additional parents helping in a classroom far exceeds the potential downfalls. Due to struggling budgets in school systems these days, the student/teacher ratio has been raised in many places. As a result, a teacher is expected to teach to 23 children at all different levels, keeping the advanced ones challenged and reaching out to those children that learn a slightly slower rate. Is that possible?
I am extremely lucky to have two children that are very bright and advanced (of course we read and learn new things at home, but I feel we owe a great deal of where my kids are academically to the Primrose environment that they were in from newborn through Pre-K). For example, my 2nd grade child is reading on a 4th grade level. Although wonderful, having an advanced child comes with its own challenges…my child can cause disruptions in class if he gets his work done too quickly. A friend of mine often goes into the class and takes the advanced readers into another room and works with them on things so the teacher can focus on those that need a little more help from the teacher. To me this is a benefit to all the students. Another example is the weekly fluency tests. Every week each child must read a story so the words they read per minute can be measured. A volunteer parent can handle that while the teacher continues teaching, or the teacher can give kids some busy work while she tests each child individually. I feel the parent involvement is beneficial in this situation as well. So my question to you…what is your opinion? Should parents be allowed to help in classrooms?