I want to start by extending my sincere gratitude to the Ukiah Unified team and all of the students, parents, and guardians for their combined effort in educating our children in these challenging times of distance learning. This is not an ideal situation for anyone, and I ask that we all patiently wait for the time when students and school staff can safely return to school campuses.
Never before have so many parents nationwide had to take such a huge part in educating their kids. This is tough! I know it was tough at my house in the spring when my son was finishing his senior year at Ukiah High School. It has given me a whole new appreciation of what it takes to educate our kids. For now, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all have an opportunity to be involved in their children’s daily education through distance learning. This opportunity to experience the day to day instruction provided by our teachers can be positive. Parents hear the interactions between their students and teachers in Spanish classes, math classes, CTE classes, etc. in a way that has never been available before now.
Spending time with your kids interacting with school is beneficial. Believe me, even the small amounts of time you spend with your child talking about how their school day went or helping them with their homework will make a big difference in the long run. I came to the United States from Mexico when I was about 20 years old. My experiences along the way allowed me to appreciate the fantastic opportunities this country has to offer, but we all need to do our part, work hard, and take advantage of those opportunities. Ukiah Unified teachers and school staff all do a fantastic job preparing our students for life challenges, and parent and guardian involvement at school is just as important.
Here's just one example from my past of how giving children just a little attention and support at school goes a long way. It was Read Across America Day at school when one of my kids was in third grade, and I had volunteered to participate in this fun and educational activity with my son's class. A group of children and a couple of adults sat on blankets on the school’s lawn on that sunny day and started to take turns reading from the books we had chosen. Soon it was the turn of this shy little girl to read, and some students said, "She’s not going to read; she’s too shy.”
That little girl happened to be the daughter of a co-worker at the time. All it took for her to read beautifully from her book that day was me spending a few seconds letting her know that her dad and I worked for the same company and that I enjoyed working with him because he was a great man. When she understood that an adult was there to support her, she became confident and could shine like a bright star!
Imagine her classmates’ reaction to seeing her read for the first time! Imagine her sense of accomplishment at the end of her school day. This type of confidence is priceless. I hope that some of the students involved or that shy girl herself, who are in their 20's now, get to read this column and say, “Yep, that happened.”.
The benefits for kids when parents understand and are involved with their education are many. This new type of involvement in our kid’s education will lead to a far better understanding of education. Involvement leads to understanding. Parents who are involved in school activities and programs gain a better understanding of education and are able to advocate for more effective changes.
I know we aren’t able to have in-person learning right now, but I know we will make it through the pandemic’s tough times, and going back to school in-person will be right around the corner. When we can go back to school, I urge parents and guardians to stay engaged by attending school events, volunteering and joining school committees. Get involved with PTO. Do whatever you can to support your kids at school because together, we are the ones who will make a difference. Please call your child’s school to find out their needs and discover ways to get involved.