Banning Parents From Their Kids' Classrooms Hurts Everyone Involved

classroomIt's been said that the mommy wars come down to one thing: jealousy. And I'm going to admit it. This working mom is hella jealous of the stay-at-home moms who are able to spend time in their kids' classrooms. I have to duck my head in shame on open house night when the teacher calls for volunteers, but I would love to be more involved in my kid's education.

Isn't that the best thing for kids? Involved parents? You'd think. And yet, a Virginia legislator is currently crafting a law to make it mandatory to let parents into their kids' classrooms because there are schools that are actually turning away moms like me. And a little surveying of some moms around the country reveals this isn't just a problem in the Old Dominion State.

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For reasons that varied from "it's district policy" to "the teacher picked her favorites," parents haven't been allowed to get a look at how things work day-to-day in their kid's classroom. And I know just how they feel -- like they're missing a piece of the puzzle

Although the horrifying story out of Los Angeles yesterday about the teacher who allegedly abused dozens of kids inside the classroom made most parents question just what's going on at school, this isn't about trust for me. I met my daughter's teacher at the open house, had a nice conversation with her on parent/teacher night, and we've chatted via email and phone. She's been nothing but helpful, and I'm confident in her abilities.

And yet, it's frustrating to depend on an intermediary to get a picture of the dynamics of a classroom.

I can (and do) ask my 6-year-old. But let's face it, she's 6! She leaves things out. She forgets. She tells things "her way." And she is just a wee bit dramatic.

The only real way to get a sense of her day-to-day, how she interacts with her peers (and they with her), and what is truth vs. a 6-year-old's version of it is to actually enter a classroom and see it with my own eyes. Last year I was able to use a vacation day from work to volunteer during a classroom party, and just that hour or two changed my perspective entirely. I can't wait to do the same thing later this month in first grade.

It's a hard thing for parents to send their kids off in the morning and then try to piece together the story of their day from the dribs and drabs of information we collect after they get off the bus. Even one day of observation in a classroom can help make us more informed parents, and thus more involved. That's exactly what kids need, but even more to the point, it's what teachers need to actually get their jobs done.

In fact Patrick Hope's proposal in Virginia sounds like it would help a lot of parents and teachers both. It would help educators control the visits -- teachers have to get "reasonable notice" and there can only be "minimized disruption" for parents -- and help the parents in one fell swoop. I can't imagine any district saying no to something like this.

Do you visit your child's classroom? How has it benefited your family?

 

Image via sambo854/Flickr

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