Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Parent Appreciation Day

Recently my grandmother spent time in a hospital, and later a nursing home, recovering from an accident.  It was during my spring break, so fortunately I was able to spend a lot of time with her.  During her stay I found myself feeling very protective and opinionated, while still trying to develop a positive working relationship with the staff.  I was constantly reminded that there were some parallels between her care providers and myself: 1) we were trained in providing an important service 2) our jobs are made easier and our work more effective when we view the family involvement of those we work with as an asset 3) we work with families who love for those we work with and are looking to see that we care their loved ones, as well.

So, I began thinking about how I interact with my students' parents and little things I can do to deliberately express an appreciation for them.  Did you know that the 4th Sunday of every July is Parent Appreciation Day?  I did not.  I guess it is usually eclipsed by the days we dedicate to fathers and mothers, individually.  Still, two of these three days tend to fall during the summer when interactions with parents have dropped off.  So I say, who needs a day?  Here are my top ten ways to show parents/guardians how important they are throughout the year.

1) Is your school hosting a PTSA meeting this spring?  Have students leave notes for their parents showing appreciation for  those things their parents do to support their education, teach them and help them grow.  Pass them out to parents as they arrive.

2) Have students read stories about parent/child relationships.  Then have them write their own real life stories about themselves and their parents.

3) Host a luncheon or some other reception for the parents.  Get the students involved by having them hand out certificates to the parents.  If parents can't come, have students invite people who support them, including staff.

4) Ask students about their parents and always speak positively about them.  I have found that even students who have been abused will turn around and brag about their parents weeks later.  It is important for children's self esteem to see the good in their parents, no matter what.  Criticizing our students' parents is off limits.  Period.

5) Call home with good reports and let parents know they can and should be proud of their kids and how they've raised them.

6) See involvement as an asset.  It is easy to forget sometimes when parents get defensive why they are doing it: love and concern.  We may not agree with they say or do all of the time, but involvement almost always equals a more engaged, successful child.

7) Turn writing assignments, arts projects and the like into gifts to take home to parents.

8) Be mindful of the little things....saying hello when you see them, smiling, thanking them, asking how they are doing, taking the initiative to go and greet them when you cross paths, etc.  The little things--how you react when they are around you--speak volumes.

9) Teach your students about the 5 love languages (acts of service, affection, words of encouragement, gifts and quality time).  Encourage them to express their love and appreciation for their parents in different ways.  Not only will this show appreciation for the parents, but it will make students more interpersonally aware.

10)  Have students write letter to their parents.  Mail them out over the summer in time for Parent Appreciation Day.

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