SUWANEE -- The Gwinnett County Public School System uses three key ways to encourage parents to stay involved with their children.
Through initiatives like Parent Portal, ParenTVision and Parent Centers, moms and dads can help keep tabs on their young ones as they make their way through the Gwinnett County Public School System.
District Spokesperson Sloan Roach calls the Parent Portal "a very key communication tool for schools and for parents. It allows parents to have anytime, anywhere access to academic information about their children."
Roach said when parents sign up for the online program, they can also access attendance records, course history, schedules, discipline records, grades and test history.
Roach added that new features allow parents to see information about what books, be it textbooks or library books, their children have checked out.
Beginning in April, another new feature allows parents to contact teachers through the portal.
"Our hope is that it will help parents and schools work together to make sure parents have the information they need to help their children," Roach said.
She added that the district has gotten nothing but positive feedback about the portal since its beginning.
"When we first rolled this out we had some parents who came to us who said it's one of the best things the schools have done," Roach said. "It helps them talk to their children about what's going on in their school."
Parents looking to sign up for the Parent Portal should contact their local school and inquire about registration information for the program. After registration, all parents need is an internet connection and a user ID to get started.ParenTVisionAnother way that the school district reaches out to parents to help them get involved is through ParenTVision, a television show that aims to educate parents about 21st-century issues facing their children.
Broadcast and Distance Learning Director Greg LaHatte said the show is filled with "conversation starters."
"In a sense, it's a way for parents to understand what their children are dealing with in this day and age," LaHatte said. "It's mainly aimed at the teenage population."
Co-Producer Kolinda Scialabba said "it gives parents an avenue for kids to talk about those issues which would not normally be brought up."
Scialabba said the show covers a wide range of topics.
"It helps take the blinders off of parents, and we want them to see that the issues are there," she said.
The show is hosted by a counselor who sees many of the issues in her day-to-day life in the field.
"That way," LaHatte said, "we are able to reach out to the community to make sure we're addressing real issues."
Added LaHatte: "It's just another way the school system is trying to give parents the information that's timely for them."Parent CentersAt Title 1 designated schools in the district, parent instructional support centers are set up to help educate parents on how to support their children in academic endeavors.
Support can include workshops, meetings and classes that teach literacy, mathematics and English as a second language.
Erin Buckley, coordinator of federal and special programs with Gwinnett County Public Schools, said the centers "are extremely popular with parents."
Buckley said parent involvement is "extremely important, because parents are the first teachers of students."
Added Buckley: "We know that students who have parents who are involved with their schools do better all around."
She said parent involvement can sometimes be as simple as coming to eat lunch with your child. "Kids love that," Buckley said.
For more information about parent centers, visit your local Title 1 school.