I came across a very interesting statistic the other day while researching the greatest concerns of preschool parents. While parents over all were concerned with issues like separation anxiety, transitions from home to school, their child’s abilities to get along and make friends, as well as academic expectations (in other words could they keep up), the majority of African American parents’ greatest concern was the exposure of their young children to racial inequity within the school setting.
In fact, many parents of children of color fear that the very place they send their children to learn and grow each day are desperately searching for quality early childhood placements and after visiting these sites which claim academic excellence all too often feel that these institutions do not recognize nor celebrate diversity. Parents pick up on this sense often when tuning into the center or school staff composition as well as the environment and curriculum choices on display during their visits. This is not to say that these schools deliberately plan for such an outcome. The reality is that these environments were created by and for people who do not share nor understand the experiences and cognitive and socio-emotional needs of children from African American backgrounds.
The solution to this problem is not easy. However, a careful look at the current landscape may reveal solutions that are not only applicable but very accessible and viable in their implementation. Lets review one option you may consider.
Form a Parent Collective
There truly is strength in numbers. The discovery that many people share the same concerns for their children provides an instant bond and sense of purpose that can fuel an effective and influential group of parents who can then share their knowledge, skills and energy to identify and address educational needs of their young children. The ability to collaborate is truly powerful. In collaborative environments you begin with discussions that lay out common concerns and issues that need to be addressed. You follow with a survey of resources and skill embedded in the parent members of the group including their professional and personal networks. You establish a consistent and regular schedule of meetings and social gatherings to handle the business of the group and to provide educational and social outlets geared particularly to the needs of the children as well as towards building relationships between families.In time you will create a force that is formidable and flexible enough to fill the gaps that too often put our young children at risk at school whether it be daycare, preschool, primary grades.
A family I know recently shared their story of forming a parent group after discovering that the permanent teacher for their children’s first grade class had resigned and was being replaced with not one but a series of substitutes. They began to recognize a change in their children’s attitudes towards school as well as a decline in the quality of schoolwork and homework being produced. Several parents including the family I met approached the school principal several times individually regarding their concerns without success. They felt they were being dismissed and ignored. Finally, the mother of the family I met approached a number of other parents of children in the same class and convinced them to organize and form a group to then approach the school with their concerns.
The response was significant. The parent group achieved a requested meeting. They created a specific agenda of concerns prior to the meeting and shared those with school officials. They were clear, articulate and determined in their approach to the situation causing school officials to react very differently than previous occasions. They realized these parents were prepared to stand their ground until their concerns regarding their children were addressed compelling the school to begin the process for change. The parent group is still in operation to hold the school accountable and to support needed changes to increase academic quality and sensitivity to cultural relevance and sensitivity in curriculum and instruction. This parent organization is determined to continue to advocate and secure solutions to problems that impact their children’s learning and school success.
I shared this story to encourage you that organizing around common needs and goals for our children’s success can reap rich benefits and send a powerful message to the educational institutions that we are here to support them in any way we can to provide high quality educational experiences for our children. However, we are also ready willing and able to hold them accountable when it appears that they may not be operating in the best interests of our children. The opportunity is evident, the need is critically clear and the power is yours!
Thank you for reading and please be sure to subscribe to get more information on how to advocate for our children and create the types of learning environments we know they need and deserve.
See You Next Time Family!
Every Monday you can meet me right here and on TheWRITEaddiction where I contribute various tips and tricks for helping all you parents and early childhood educators succeed in preparing children to excel in lifelong learning. You can also follow me on Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to my YouTube channel for plenty of free resources.