We need to partner with parents. Their contribution to their child’s performance in school is just as critical as that of the school’s. The attitude that parents have about the school is coming back to you everyday through their child. Your student’s effort in school is critical to their performance academically, socially, and behaviorally. The extent of that effort may be directly related to the attitude about school they derive from home.
So, why do so many schools seem to build walls where bridges would be more effective?
Here’s a good start. Please let them bring cupcakes.
Why? Isn’t this a non-academic issue that has no bearing on student performance? Maybe not. If parental support equates to student effort (research says so) and student effort yields performance (you say so) , you might want to think about whether your school makes everything easier or more difficult on parents.
First, before you say it, yes I know that students have food allergies and that there are legitimate safety concerns to be addressed. You’re a professional educator, a principal, a leader. You can figure it out and make it work if you want to.
Let’s say you can figure out a way to incorporate cupcakes into your school environment (for the record I see it happen at highly effective schools regularly). Why would you care? What’s the deal with cupcakes?
Just as many of our teachers (and principals) say that parents have changed, parents can just as easily and perhaps more profoundly say that school, teachers, and principals have changed. It’s often difficult for our parents to help students with their homework. The level of challenge has risen greatly. The methods we use, particularly in math, are different than when the parents were in school.
Many of our parents want to bring cupcakes in because it is something they can do, something they feel comfortable with, and, very importantly it’s something they may have seen their parents do. As much as curriculum has changed and testing has changed, some of our parents need something to hang onto that they feel good about. Cupcakes.
If it is truly worth it to cut out that interaction and what it may mean, on many levels, to the parents at your school then go for it. I would encourage you to consider the big picture of school and home relations. How do the parents coming into your school feel about the school? Do they feel like you are reaching out to meet them, or stepping out to block them?
The truth is, it isn’t about cupcakes, but it IS all about relationships, perceptions, and being a real part of things. We would be well-served to recognize the significance of relationships and to understand how our parents feel. If you choose to outlaw cupcakes, do consider your approach in doing so. It’s not just what you say (or do), but how you say it.
Remember to build a place where parents FEEL welcomed, ARE welcomed, and are given a chance to be a real part of the place, cupcakes or not.
As far as cupcakes go, that’s a decision for you to make as the principal. Just be cautious not to win the Cupcake Battle and lose the Parent Partnership War.