Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk: Parental Involvement at all School Levels

This year marks my twentieth year working in education. I have worked in both the Elementary and Middle school environments. As Principal of Grace Hudson Language Academy, I see the importance of parent involvement daily. I have twins, Valentina and Benjamin, and on May 21st, they turned twenty-three. I remember everything we, as parents, did to ensure they were on the right track. The efforts started in elementary school and continued through middle and high school. What’s new in today’s world is the rising importance of digital literacy. Parents play a key role in ensuring their children understand the responsibilities that come with technology, even as we are actively learning those as they develop and evolve.

During the elementary school grades, having regular and longer conversations with your children is crucial. Doing so helps parents maintain and foster open lines of communication. As parents, you are their first and most important teacher. Your children must know you are the person to come to under any circumstance. The more you use adult vocabulary, the more your children will internalize and use that language. Reading with your student each day is vital. All children during elementary school are sponges; the more they are exposed to rich, complex language, the better. You can facilitate this by having game nights during the week with family. If you set high expectations, they will meet them.

Once students enter middle school, which in Ukiah may start as early as 5th Grade, make sure to continue all of the habits created in elementary school. And add a few more. In middle school, students need more space due to their growing independence. Although giving them that space is essential, it is more important than ever to maintain open daily communication. Set expectations and normalize communication about your child’s day. Discuss problems or concerns they may be experiencing, including the changes that their bodies are undergoing. In middle school, it is essential to be patient and, at all times, loving. Middle schoolers are undergoing constant cognitive and physical change. Be involved, and know who they are communicating with on a daily basis. Middle School students often have an extensive online presence with many different social media platforms: Discord, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, X, and many other gaming platforms, not just Messenger. Being involved in your middle schoolers’ daily life is as important as your kindergarteners’. 

High school is a transformative period during which students begin to discover their identities and interests. It’s a time of exploration, with students taking a variety of classes and forming new friendships. High schools are typically larger environments where students hone their independence. Physical changes continue, but their mental abilities progress significantly. The most successful high school students are those who have the support and involvement of their parents throughout their journey.

As the principal at Grace Hudson Language Academy, I am pleased to onboard families into the public education system. One of my firm beliefs is that students who are supported all the way through are the most successful in the end. Support may sometimes mean that you are involved even when your student behaves independently and may not want or appreciate your presence.