Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Parents enter kids' world

By William Croyle
Enquirer contributor

Cody Edmonds sees his dad only on weekends because his parents are divorced - and even that time has to be shared with his brothers. That's why having Dad at school this week was so important to the 8-year-old.

"I wanted him to meet my friends and play with me - and without my brothers around," said Cody.

"He's been bugging me about it since last week," said Bernie Edmonds. "It meant a lot to him."

Bernie was one of 16 second-grade parents at Sixth District Elementary School on Tuesday for "Walk a Day in Your Child's Shoes" week. Parents squeezed behind tiny desks, color and wear Dr. Seuss hats in honor of the author's 100th birthday. They also ate in the cafeteria and played outside for recess.

The program attracted 145 parents to Glen O. Swing Elementary School last week, and has drawn 54 parents in the first two days at Sixth District. It's a chance for parents to see what their children do in school - and for teachers to meet parents they don't normally see.

"A lot of times parents hesitate to come in, even for parent/teacher conferences, because the parents had a bad experience when they were in school," said Bobbi Millson, Cody's teacher. "It's especially nice to see all the dads that came in today."

In fact, in Millson's class, there were more dads than moms.

"It's always important for me to support my daughter in everything she does," said Tom Hearn while eating lunch with his daughter, Maddie. "She was so excited about this that she woke up at 5:30 this morning. She usually gets up about 7:15."

The program is sponsored by the Covington Parent Academy. The academy is federally funded by the Ready to Learn initiative, which is a plan to break down learning barriers for students.

The academy rewards parents who volunteer, participate in education meetings, or attend events like "Walk a Day..." by giving them credits which can be redeemed for merchandise.

The district believes parental involvement is one way to improve the education of each child. which it hopes will lead to improving the district's test scores.

"We need to get parents involved in positive ways," said academy coordinator Julie Minardi. "Many come to school only because their child is in trouble. Through this program, parents can actually see what their child is doing in class."

Sue Ferguson, chair of the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, said "Walk a Day..." and the academy sound like good ideas.

"There isn't any doubt that kids improve when parents are involved. It makes a tremendous difference in their achievement," said Ferguson. "If the school is a welcoming environment and families are included, it will be a nice, mutual relationship."


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Parents enter kids' world