Saturday, 15 November 2014

REMINDING PARENTS TO BE PARENTS: Text Reminders for reading, singing and loving

The New York Times recently wrote an article on an initiative that reminds parents to read to their children (and other tasks for their education). They receive the text reminders at the times that it would be most likely for them to do the tasks.

You can read it HERE!

It made me think two specific things. 

1. YES! of course this makes sense. Our lives revolve around our phones. I have two sons.

My boys are my world and their development as thinkers, citizens, readers, spiritual beings and students are my number one priority. ALSO I am a moderate cell phone user. I don't consider it a lifeline and don't use it near as much as my friends.

BUT--There are times that the reminders of my phone will take precedence over what my boys ask for. "Yes I'll get you some juice as soon as I'm done texting."  Our phones have become the tool with which we organize our lives. Through calenders, reminders, alarm clocks, a tool in which people can contact you if you are 5 minutes late for something. So why not use this reality for the betterment of children?

2. How much is student's life a teacher's responsibility or business. Is it a school's or a teacher's responsibility to remind parents to be parents. Is part of the reason some parents are inactive in their kid's education because schools have taken on roles that are not theirs. AND can schools keep up with where this is going? Is there any part of a child's life that isn't shared with the school once they enter school? I can't think of one. Is that good? Is it not so good? I'm not sure. When I am teaching I can't imagine myself not trying to do what I can for a student just because I think it's "not in my job description."

The studies done show this texting program is effective. So shouldn't we just use any useful technology?

The best teacher's I've ever known go beyond the classroom. They talk to student's in the hallway, ask them about their lives, go to their hockey games and their Battle of The Bands. Is the texting initiative too much though? You tell me. 


  1. I cannot decide myself if this would be a good app or not. I read to my younger children and have my older two read themselves almost nightly. It is the times that I have been running from here to there all night long that we forget or do not have time to read when we get home. So times like this yes it may be beneficial. However, there are some parents out there that u consciously choose to not read to their children and I don't know if a ring of the phone would change that choice in the grand scheme of things. I believe that for the first while it would promote reading in those households, but the app would get old and become just another ring that chimes through their house every night.

  2. Dustan I completely agree with you! The best teachers I ever had took a vested interest in me outside the classroom in a professional manner; coming to a basketball game, going out of the way to say hi to my parents etc.

    However I wonder too if the whole texting/social media universe is properly understood. Has the availability of communication apps made the whole idea of face to face communication fade into the background - I would definitely think so.

    Many of my teacher friends here in Saskatchewan and back home in Ontario always wonder about how much is enough communication with home, or how can I motivate my one student to give more effort. Many of them struggle by trying to communicate technologically because it appeals to the parents/students. While that is honourable, I've found that in many cases it doesn't work.

    The benefit of communicating with home using Remind, Class Dojo, or Edmodo is that they give students and parents reminders about their upcoming dates for projects, tests, trips and so on. The drawback is in how the app is used by parents and students, if at all.

    In my short teaching career, I use a policy passed on to me from my mentor teacher from when I first moved here. Inform the parents of the one communication application to be used for reminders with home - send your reminder when needed - and move on with your day. Once the reminder is sent, it's incumbent upon the student and the parent to know about the happenings of the classroom.

    If the student does their readings/project - terrific! If not, then that's unfortunate - take a note of it and make a phone call home for a reminder or to arrange a face to face meeting if its affecting student learning and achieving of outcomes.

    An old teacher of mine told me once that (aside from student social worker/counselling concerns) to accept what I can control as a teacher, not what I cannot control, and move forward. Teachers need to know that they cannot remind parents to be parents.