Planting the Seeds of Parent Engagement
In the spring of 2011, the Parents for Public Schools chapter of San Francisco offered kindergarten enrollment workshops for interested parents at five different public libraries. The response was overwhelming, and the chapter recently completed expanded workshops to accommodate more parents. Chapter program manager Carol Lei explained the benefits and noted that “the purpose of the workshop was to be sure that parents understood the sometimes tricky process of San Francisco elementary enrollment. We did a good job of that, but we were also planting the seeds of parent engagement at their children’s schools.”
During the workshops, PPS helps parents enroll their children in the months of October-January. When parents receive in March the notification of the school their child will attend the following fall, PPS works with parents to understand:
- What their child should expect in school
- How to prepare their child for entering school
- How to read and understand a report card
How to help their child “practice” for starting school by sitting quietly for 10 minutes (!), using “feeling” words, and opening/eating lunch quickly, among other things some people take for granted
“These are important to our parents and certainly make the child more comfortable,” said Lei. “Beyond preparing the child, though, we remind parents that it is their right and responsibility to be active at the school. We explain the power of parents.”
Parents for Public Schools – including the San Francisco chapter, of course – believes that parents are effective leaders in their community schools when they are: proactive problem solvers, effective decision makers, equal partners, community advocates, standard raisers and mentors to others. Through workshops like the one described here and a variety of initiatives, PPS is ensuring that parents fit this bill.
These workshops and parent engagement discussions will continue over the summer. PPS is proud of our chapters and the work they do to mobilize, educate and engage parents for the betterment of America’s schools.