There are so many factors at play in public and private education that is moving many of us towards more crowded classrooms. Whether it’s budget cuts, school closures, or combinations of grade levels, how are you to make sure that your child feels special in the eyes of his teacher? In truth, you can’t control the daily ins and outs of the classroom environment, nor can you control the way these changes are affecting the mood of the classroom or teacher. What you can control, however, is how you decide to deal with these changes and aim to create a valuable learning environment in your home.
Many families are victims to changes in school district funding and organization. Since 2008, Long Beach Unified School District alone has let go of almost 1300 certificated positions, many of which were teachers.1 Additionally, we are all aware of the massive amounts of budget cuts occurring throughout Los Angeles Unified School District in recent years that will continue to take shape as our state struggles to settle the debt crisis we have found ourselves in. Children’s lives are affected by these decisions, and if your family has not been touched by these cuts then surely you know people or families who have.
How do we get back in touch with the heart of education when so many are underplaying the importance of it? First, it is essential that you, as a parent, make your presence and involvement known at your school in a positive and helpful way. If time allows, volunteer in the classroom, library, or computer lab and on field trips so that you can see your child and his teacher in action. If you are a full-time working parent, try to connect with other parents that you trust and find out more about the daily expectations on your child. My biggest piece of advice for you, the working parent, is to be proactive in your inquiry and mindful of your sources. If you seek connections with teachers and staff at your school or other parents and you are aware of biases, you will receive helpful information about the classroom that someone less assertive may not.
Once you have a sense of the mood and style of the teacher, you can work to emulate both at home. If your child feels like he is “lost in the numbers” in his classroom, perhaps you can help to satisfy this need for personal attention. Yes, no one can argue against the fact that attention from a teacher feels incredibly different than attention from mom or dad. However, making the time to work with your child at home and answer the questions that he has (or help him formulate questions to ask the teacher the next day) is a huge component of the educational experience that can’t be overlooked.
If you find yourself in a position where the class size is large and you do not have options for change, then you can still make your child feel taken care of by spending the much-needed time with him on task. By connecting with your child’s teacher and being aware of schedules, due dates, and work expectations, your child can still receive the support that he needs from you, and he can walk into his full classroom more confident and sure of himself than before.
1 “Budget Update.” Long Beach Schools. Long Beach Unified School District, 17 May 2012. Web. 30 May 2012. http://www.lbusd.k12.ca.us/District/Budget/