By John Horton
Talk about love! What better way to express “true love” than to be supportive of our children in school … and in life. National African American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID) will be observed Monday, February 13, 2012, the day before Valentine’s Day, in school districts throughout the United States. This celebration has been observed annually on the second Monday in February for the past seventeen years.
NAAPID, a nonprofit 501(C)(3), volunteer, national initiative, was funded as an organization to promote educational excellence and parental involvement. Basically, NAAPID espouses that education is the key to success in life and (involved) parents are educators’ greatest allies and resources. Generally, the more that parents are involved in their children’s educational lives, the better their educational outcomes.
While the focus of the day (during Black History Month) is primarily on African Americans, the purpose and scope of NAAPID is not mutually exclusive. ALL parents and children are openly solicited and strongly encouraged to participate in the program’s activities, events, celebrations and goals.
It is hoped that this national observance will facilitate dialogue among teachers, parents and students that will lead to a more conducive learning environment and support group for ALL students from kindergarten through college.
In support of NAAPID’s efforts and endeavors, I would like to offer my thoughts and ideas on what they are trying to accomplish for ALL of our children/students. More than anything else, I believe the answer to what ails our public schools is more in-depth parental involvement. This is based on my experience and insight as a parent, teacher, counselor, mentor, probation officer and youth advocate. Over the past two decades, I have worked with thousands of youth in the social services, public schools, community colleges, detention centers, juvenile courts, and public housing.
Parental involvement is the pure essence of “reaping what you sow.” If you don’t give anything up front, you simply don’t get anything back. It takes lots and lots of hard and smart work. Of all the ingredients that go into the successful education of our children, parental involvement is the most important of all. With in-depth parental involvement, a student can overcome almost any obstacle(s) and compete with the best of them.
In my dealings as a parent and a professional, I have found the key component of student success to be parental involvement. It is a delicate balance and collaborative relationship between the triad of student-school-home. It takes all three components to make things work at maximum capacity. Without parental involvement, the “triangle” will not stand – never has, and never will.
Being an involved parent is one of the most important jobs there is. If you want to give your child a competitive edge and/or unfaltering confidence, give that child a healthy dose of parental involvement. To do this, parents must learn to more effectively communicate with, listen to, support and supervise their children. This can be a tough, sometimes thankless, job, but we need to do it – 24/7. I have found that there are basically two kinds of parents: those who think they can and those who think they cannot. And, they are both right.
Being a supportive and involved parent is highly challenging and complex. We are responsible for so much: our children getting enough sleep, eating right, dressing appropriately, doing homework, getting to school on time, staying out of trouble, having a positive attitude, and the like. In short, parents (should) have the ultimate responsibility for the preparedness and successfulness of their children in school and life. No one can do it like the parents, nor should they be expected.
As parents we can no longer afford to remain passive and silent, for things will not get better all by themselves. Parental involvement requires us to continually prepare our children for what lies ahead. It is our parental duty to be there for our children. We need to be(come) their designated “guides” and “leaders.” They need us, and we need to be there for them. This, too, is as it should be.
In summation, this should give us cause and reason to celebrate National African American Parent Involvement Day on February 13th and throughout the year.
John Horton is a frequent contributor to this newspaper. He is a retired Marine and youth counselor who lives in Norfolk.