The Natchez-Adams Parent Center serves Chapter 1 students and their families. The Parent Center focuses its efforts on involving parents/families in their children's academic progress. Staff at the center have developed a set of procedures which includes participation from students, parents, teachers, and Center staff. These procedures are responsive to a children's needs when they are having difficulty mastering skills taught in the classroom.
"We wanted parents and families to become actively involved in the education of their child. We thought that if we taught parents how to work with the child at home, then we would be making some inroads into parent and family involvement..."
The first procedural step is a school/family conference. During the conference the teacher explains the area in which in the child is having difficulty and completes a Parent Assistance Form (known in the district as a "green sheet"). This form indicates the skill the teacher would like the student to work on in the next six week period (e.g., long division). The parent then takes the green sheet to the Parent Center. Staff at the Center provide materials which promote skills in the needed area. They also demonstrate to the parent how to use the materials with their child. Materials are checked out, so parents and children can work at home. Materials typically include games, manipulatives and puzzles, and focus on activity-based learning. Parents can continue to check out materials for as long as they wish to work with their child. After a parent has attended the Center, a follow-up form is sent to the referring teacher informing them of the parent's visit.
When a teacher is having difficulty contacting a parent or the parent is not attending conferences, the teacher can request Parent Center staff to do a home visit. The teacher completes a "yellow form" and Center staff visit the family to encourage parents to meet with the teacher and use the resources in the Parent Center. Parents can also attend workshops through the Parent Center which is open year-round. Topics range from discipline and building self-esteem to providing assistance with academic subjects. In addition, families can check out computers and software selected for the specific needs of the child. When parents participate in a workshop or check out a computer, the child's teacher is informed of this participation.
Linking parents and families to agencies that provide basic family needs was the original purpose of the Parent Center. Over time, parents began to request help with home activities geared toward improving student academic success.
Consistent, on-going staff development provides program staff with the tools and strategies necessary to effectively involve parents and family members in learning activities at home with their children.
Program staff provide both training and materials to parents that increase the capacity of family members to work with their children at home on instructional tasks.
Center staff and teachers remain in constant contact, through the use of the referral process, to link home learning activities with the instructional needs of the child and the objectives set by teachers.
Resource needs may change as children and families mature. The middle school students have not used the Parent Center for checking out skill building packets as much as the elementary students. However, the demand for computers to be checked out through the Parent Center has been high demand for older students, possibly because computers are a better match developmentally for older student's learning.