During the last decades, family life has radically changed, current working hours as well as the incorporation of most mothers into the labor market, make it difficult to reconcile work with family responsibilities.
Due to these factors, schooling begins at an earlier age. The school must take on new educational responsibilities, while at the same time diminishing their dominance. Despite the influence of new agents involved in education (TV, internet, leisure activities, families with more education), most of children’s lives, up to adolescence, are spent in the family and at school.
No one teaches parents how to educate their children, and they must face every day the different situations that arise, solving them in the best possible way. Families now have needs that the school should not ignore and that should help meet them as educational professionals. Parents are not experts in educational matters, and many times they find themselves lost in certain family tasks, wondering if what they do, and how they do it, is appropriate or not.
The school must respond to the needs of families, since they must also be an agent of help and change, since they are directly responsible for their children.
The real and effective participation of families is still a pending issue in many of our educational centers. Few people doubt that the family and the school have to work together, however, the collaboration between the two is not always understood in the same way by parents and teachers, and it is not always effective. It seems, at times, that school and family choose parallel paths of action, instead of working in synergy, hand in hand, for a common goal.
For the participation – collaboration between the educational center and the families to be effective and efficient, both agents must know or have access to information in both directions, two-way. In this regard, we mean that parents and teachers listen to each other and agree on what to do after exchanging information and points of view. This implies changing the type of relationship that is so common: teachers “recommend” and families obey or ignore. Parents affirm that they have a series of rights that the centers must satisfy and teachers must have in their hands, as professionals that they are, all the solutions and actions on how to educate their children. At the same time, the teachers think that the involvement of families in the centers entails greater control, greater demands, extra rules of action; Furthermore, they consider that parents have no interest in being involved in the school, since they delegate responsibilities to teachers. For these reasons, teachers-parents are closed to greater collaboration and tend to participate jointly in a limited way.
To determine what the relationship and participation of families in educational centers is like, we have carried out a “pilot study” of research, in order to design strategies that allow orient the elements of participation – collaboration between educational centers and families, and achieve an assessment positive of the actions aimed at the continuous improvement of educational quality supported by said collaboration. The sampling is non-probabilistic and performed “on purpose”one In this case, we are not interested in the sample being chosen at random to be representative, but rather that the subjects that make it up meet a requirement: “having children of school age”. We have started from a sample of 42 families who have children of school age -2014 / 2015 course- and we have collected, through a questionnaire, information about the dimensions: degree of knowledge of the school center and degree of participation in the educational community. Likewise, a “focus group” has been carried out with these families in order to obtain more in-depth qualitative information of interest. The collection of the data has been anonymous and the treatment of the same, totally confidential.
Analyzing the results obtained with respect to the degree of knowledge of the school, we must emphasize that all the families know the directive and pedagogical structure of their children’s school, the existence of AMPA and its operation and the participation bodies of the parents who exist in the center. All have held a meeting with their children’s tutor in the past academic year, 67% being the families’ own initiative requesting such a meeting. Regarding the degree of participation in the educational community, 100% of the parents consider this participation important and are aware of all the activities that take place in the school.
The results of the “focus group” carried out with these families show that they are currently satisfied with what the center offers them, although it is true that they demand an education in emotions and affectivity to improve the development of children: “The Spanish educational system, in general terms, has been cultivating measurable teaching-learning in instrumental areas of knowledge, but has neglected the promotion of anthropological and ethical values fundamental for the maturity of the human being and for the construction of a better society. In education, the values on the rise today are personal competencies and the relationship of the child’s affective development with the notions of intelligence, education and emotional competence “.two
They consider fluency in communication of vital importance, especially in the Early Childhood Education stage, when not all children are yet able to clearly communicate to their parents what the teachers tell them about activities related to their education. These families request the help of the educational centers in the detection of bullying, learning and behavior problems of the student in a timely manner to be able to take parallel measures at home-school as soon as possible, carry out specific monitoring of the children so that get a more fluid feedback on the evolution of the children throughout the year, to avoid divergences between the measures taken at school and by the family.
We must work in two areas of action regarding the participation of families in the centers: one individual and the other collective. In the first area, each family must educate-train their children in a coordinated way with that of the center: parents must be informed about what is done at school, they must be interested in the activities that their children do themselves, attend class meetings or with the tutor. In the second area, the collaboration of parents with the center, can have different degrees and even scopes: attendance to recreational activities, organization of activities for the center, participation in work commissions, AMPA, etc.
The ultimate objective of this collaboration would be to achieve the continuous improvement of the educational quality of the center.
Regarding the collective area, the natural vehicle for participation is the AMPA.
In many centers, it is the figure of the AMPA with which families can exercise participation in the centers, and guarantees the intervention of parents in the educational area, responsibility of the schools. The parents who are part of these AMPAs have one main objective: the achievement of common goals in terms of proposals and alternatives that enrich the educational centers and, therefore, the education of their children. Responsible participation requires being trained and informed. This supposes:
Have close contact with all the parents of the students.
Complicity with the teaching staff and management team of the center.
Raise ideas and experiences.
Search together for solutions and improvements in the management of the Center.
In accordance with Royal Decree 1593/86, (article 5), the associations of parents of students will assume the following purposes:
Assist parents or guardians in everything that concerns the education of their children or wards. ??
Collaborate in the educational activities of the centers.??
Promote the participation of the students’ parents in the management of the center.
Assist the parents of students in the exercise of their right to intervene in the control and management of the centers supported with public funds. ??
Facilitate the representation and participation of the parents of students in the school councils of public and subsidized centers and in other collegiate bodies. ??
Any others that, within the framework of the regulations referred to in the previous article, are assigned their respective statutes.
However, AMPAS should not be the only measure of participation in schools.
Many teachers think that their educational work ends when children leave the classroom, and tutoring with parents is seen as a complement or addition to their professional work, however, teachers should have among their priority tasks knowing how to care for families , which must become for the teacher an unquestionable and valuable objective that implies that the teacher and the family become partners in the education of children.
On the other hand, families have to bear in mind that participation in schools should help to achieve the integral development of children and not as a control of the teacher, since many teachers feel that parents take on a role of “controller” and not so much collaboration.
Both parties, teachers and parents, must see the educational reality as the path or channel in which by carrying out joint cooperative actions, a common goal is reached, the comprehensive training of the student, and this must be our pillar and our target.
The current training of teachers must go through ensuring that they are professionals prepared to give a real response to family needs, only in this way will quality training be offered according to family demands.
One measure of participation that is being carried out in many centers is the schools for parents, which are training projects that are offered from the center, to train families in certain aspects. These schools for parents have to give a real response to the needs of families, since if this is not the case, parents do not feel the need to participate in the …