One of my Facebook friends recently posted the question, “What should be a law?” I responded that “I think all parents should be required to attend classes on how to help their children develop literacy skills. Maybe they could go a few weeks a year until their first child is 7 or 8. That would make a huge impact on how educated our country is and in the end would be financially worth it.”
I posted the idea on the Bmoreschools Facebook page and received some interesting responses, so I thought I would create a blog about the idea.
I also asked the question, “Parents, would you attend workshops to learn additional ways to help your children develop literacy & academic skills? If not, why? If so, what would you like to see in the workshops? How to motivate children? How to use the Internet as a learning tool? How to engage your children in reading? How to best help with homework? Something else?”
I had the opportunity to observe and to lead parent workshops while I was a graduate student at Towson University. I gave a presentation on ways parents could help their children visualize as they read. For example, children can listen to a poem read aloud to them and can draw their interpretation of what they comprehend. My graduate partner and I read the poem “Band-Aids” by Shel Silverstein and gave the parents the opportunity to draw images they were able to visualize as they listened to the poem. I even explained how parents can learn from older children’s drawings. For example, I teach developmental college reading students, and I have them read a description of a house and the surroundings and draw as many details as they can. Something in the description is compared to being “as big as a football field,” and a path “snakes” around the house. If my students draw a football field or little slithery snakes, I know they were not reading carefully or had difficulty comprehending the description.
We always linked what we presented to research we had done on the topic to help the parents understand why what we were discussing was important and beneficial for their children. For instance, research has been done to show that practicing visualization strategies helps children improve their reading comprehension (and the goal of reading is comprehension). We shared specific quotes from different articles to the parents to show the support from the research.
I think sharing information such as the above examples with parents is a great way to equip parents with many strategies they can use to help their children learn. All parents, no matter their education level, can benefit from attending workshops. If I was a new parent, even though I have a masters degree in Reading Education, I feel I could still benefit from attending workshops. In addition to learning strategies from educators, parents can also discuss what they already do at home to help their children, and parents can learn new ideas from each other.
The workshops could be a half hour to an hour long. Maybe parents could be required to attend a few sessions and then could decide if they wanted to continue attending? Also maybe workshops could be offered online as well as face-to-face, or they could even be offered in families homes (of families who were willing to host them). I know parents don’t like the idea of attending mandatory workshops, but I really think the benefits would be worth having everyone participate.
As parents, educators, community members, or students, what do you think of the idea of parent workshops? I am very interested to hear your ideas, so please respond here or on the Facebook discussion.