City News

Parent University can help adults help their kids

I got to admit that I snickered a bit when I first heard about this Parent University idea Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools came up with. It sounded condescending. But I changed my tune after sitting in on my two daughters' classes last week. One is a fourth-grader; the other a second-grader.

The day started with mathematics, place values to be exact. The teacher pulled out an overhead projector and began peppering the 16 or so students with questions about the value of the ones, tens and hundreds places.

My child was completely lost, with that, “ Please don't call on me” look plastered across her face. For me, it was like watching her sink in a pit of quicksand.

Later, I shared my concerns with the teacher who was surprised to learn my daughter didn't get it. I can't blame the teacher for overlooking her. In between teaching place values, the poor teacher also had to manage unruly behavior, approve multiple bathroom requests and keep students awake and attentive. Meanwhile, my daughter was lost, and there was no time to stop and help her because after about an hour of math the lesson shifted to something called Imagine It! Workshop.

Over in my fourth-grader's class, the pace was relentless – a quick, catch-up session in social studies, a new behavioral chart to implement, a pre-test for spelling, a drive-by reading assignment, oh, and lunch. I was exhausted just observing the class.

As a result, I realized some students need particular help and parents need help in figuring out how to help them.

That's why Parent University sounds like a good idea. The goal is “to enrich parents' ability to support their children's academic success and well-being.” CMS officials hope to do this by using an array of public and private resources. Classes begin Tuesday and will run through Nov. 24.

I have two daughters who are exceptional readers. Both love to collect books. But math? For them, immunization shots are more enjoyable. Studies have shown that minority children tend to do poorly in math, girls especially. I've always tried to be involved with my children's education, but as they've advanced in grades it's become more difficult to help them. I need help because I'm concerned they might fall behind and become disillusioned with school. I'm sure there are other parents like me.

Some of those parents have children attending struggling elementary schools in East Charlotte. I'm hoping these parents get involved with Parent University. Teachers have their hands full and can't possibly teach every child in the way that child needs teaching. As a result, parents must do all they can to help. That includes learning how to help.

Parent University hasn't even started and I've already learned something.