For starters, I do understand that in these days and in this environment, many parents are strapped for time and quite often, both parents have full-time jobs.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that we put too much of the burden of education on our schools and our teachers, while we don’t assign very much responsibility to the parents of our students. So, what I would like to suggest is a “letter of understanding” that focuses on the contribution that the parents could make.
The letter might be mailed to the home or it might be given to each student at the start of the semester. (If appropriate, it should certainly be bilingual.) It would be read and signed by the parents (or parent) as an indication of acknowledgement and returned to the school. It would not be a binding document, but hopefully it would serve as a means of inspiring and giving direction to parental participation.
The letter would be composed by school officials. It would briefly highlight the content of the various courses that the student would be taking that semester and would offer suggestions as to what could be “contributed” at home. Suggestions might include a parent-student dialogue regarding the courses themselves; the joint viewing of certain television programs or Web sites; periodic discussions regarding various sections of the newspaper; a list of cultural, historical or geographical places that could be visited. In short, anything that would inspire conversation and contribute parental insight.
I certainly know that all of the letters would not be signed and returned or that good intentions might be quickly forgotten, but maybe in some small way, the program would be helpful.
David Le Vine