Background

The involvement of parents in the school activities of their children is an important to investigate. Although such involvement might present many challenges, there are many aspects the school can focus on in order to engage parents in the school experiences of their children; communication is one of such aspects.

Different families have different work schedules, and accordingly different preferred communication methods, accommodating which might be a challenge.

The Case

Bobby is a 10 years old African American boy who lives with his mother in poor neighborhood of a small town. Frequently moving, Bobby is having difficulties making new friendship in new places. Sienna, Bobby’s mother, is raising him alone and after losing her last job is making her best to keep it this time. Going to work early and coming home late, Sienna does not have the possibility to check on Bobby’s progress at school as often as she should be.

After several months at the new school, the teachers noticed that Bobby’s academic achievements began declining. Bobby received low scores in a few of the tests, and after a few invitations to Sienna to discuss Bobby’s problem, which remained unanswered, the teachers acknowledged a problem they should address collaboratively with Bobby’s mother.

After several parent-teacher conferences, to which Sienna was invited, but did not attend, Bobby’s teacher decided to pay Sienna a visit on her day off, asking Bobby about it beforehand.

Visiting Bobby at home, the teacher could sit and discuss Bobby’s problem with his mother. The teacher told the mother about Bobby’s problem, pointing to that they might stem from such factors as relocating to new school, he new neighborhood, and the long absence of Bobby’s mother at work.

Sienna promised to consider Bobby’s academic problems more attentively, and she made arrangements to regularly communicate with the teacher to learn about Bobby’s progress. Sienna learned from Bobby that there are kids in their neighborhood who were bullying Bobby, which she attributed to the possible academic deficiencies at school.

Bobby’ academic performance improved; however, the teacher and his mother kept their communication pattern, regardless of whether Bobby had problems at school or not. Such communication gradually shifted to become problem-based, occurring only when the teacher thought that an intervention is required.

The fewer problems occurred with Bobby’s academic performance, the less frequent were the phone conversations between the teacher and Bobby’s mother. In order to be more informed about Bobby’s school experience, his mother though that there might be more efficient ways to keep track of Bobby’s progress.

Being unable to attend school meetings and conferences, she is thinking about taking some days off from work, to be able to regularly visit schools. She is thinking about whether such decision is justified, and at the same time being concerned about not missing any potential problem Bobby might have in the future.

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