ARCHIVED—Parents: An important partnership
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As a Grade 2 teacher, Sarah Varghese encounters many parents of her students at Keenooshayo Elementary School in St. Albert, Alberta who are keenly involved in their children's education, and want to ensure that they get off to a good start.
"Parents are my advocates," she says. "I want to work in partnership with them."
Varghese understands parents want to be involved. "When you take your child to school you lose control."
To counter this, Varghese makes a significant effort to keep them informed and involved in the classroom:
- She phones each child's parents during the first few days of school to introduce herself and give parents information about the upcoming school year.
- She holds an evening open house in the second week of school to meet parents and allow the children to show their parents the learning environment. She follows this up in November with a second open house to review each child's progress. (This is in addition to the scheduled parent-student-teacher interview.)
- She sends detailed monthly newsletters to parents that include an update on the curriculum for that month, goals for the month, and tips for parents helping with schoolwork.
- She encourages weekly volunteers in the classroom.
- She sends home a daily agenda with the children and includes a short note to parents when required. Parents, in turn, may write a short note back, to which Varghese always responds. Parents appreciate this daily communication.
- She phones children who are away sick to see how they are feeling; to let them know that they are missed.
Even more extraordinarily, Varghese goes out of her way to help parents when they need it. Since "a lot of things that happen in the classroom happen because of home," she will help parents get counselling and other help when they need it.
"The communication between the classroom and home is excellent. Mrs. Varghese takes the time to make sure that we are very aware of what is happening with our son. We find that she inspires him both in the classroom and at home. Mrs. Varghese is a frequent topic of conversation at our dinner table," says one parent.