Use Of This Online Tool By Schools Leaves Many Parents Frustrated

This digital age allows parents access to many new resources and tools, as the Internet and social media help parents stayuptodate on the most current information available.

The ability to do so many things online has also benefited our children and teachers when it comes to researching or being able to explore more about what they are learning in school.

But one online tool is coming under fire by busy parents who think schools are asking too much of us — the “parent portal.”

News Sentinel reported on parents’ views of this online tool used by many schools:

At the beginning of the school year, all the parents were basically told that we are expected to go to the school’s parent website every day to keep up with our kids’ homework assignments. In addition, the “Parent Portal,” as it’s called, also lets us know what we are expected to help with at home. In effect, we are being made responsible for what, in our estimation, is the teacher’s and student’s responsibility.

While some parents appreciate the efforts of their child’s teacher and school administration to keep them involved, critics of the portals say it is just too much.

In some cases, parents are expected to sign in to the portal every night, not only to receive updates on the school day, but also to access their child’s homework assignments for the evening — some teachers have even stopped announcing or explaining homework in class, instead making it the parents’ responsibility to look up daily assignments and make their child aware of what needs to be completed.

With all of the day-to-day responsibilities parents have, from working full-time to caring for children, home, errands, and bills, adding one more task to a parent’s day can be overwhelming.

Many parents are not only upset with their increased responsibilities but concerned that these portals are making their child too reliant on the parent to keep track of their assignments and schedules.

Some schools are also adding mandatory parent/child activities each night, taking more time away from an already busy day, and which some parents believe should be the teacher’s responsibility and better done in class.

This fairly recent practice is being used by most schools, public and private, but there is a fine line between parent involvement and enabling a child to rely on others to keep them on task.

News Sentinel continued:

This practice is supported neither by history, current research, or common sense. In the 1950s, when parent involvement in homework was generally very low to non-existent, student achievement at every grade level was significantly higher than it is today. Consistent with that statistic, recent research finds an inverse relationship between parent homework involvement and student achievement, a relationship that holds regardless of student ability or demographics.

Finally, commonsense will confirm that the more personally responsible a person is, the better a job he or she will do, regardless of the task.

Why, in the face of this overwhelming evidence, do schools persist in pushing a policy that makes no sense? These parent homework portals take advantage of ubiquitous parent anxiety — borne largely by mothers who seem to think that their children’s grades reflect the quality of their parenting — regarding school achievement and successfully turn many parents/moms into micromanaging enablers. In so doing, teachers transfer a significant amount of responsibility for academic instruction to the home.

Especially with older children, parents know it teaches their child accountability to keep track of and complete projects, papers, and other assignments on their own.  Although we all want to be aware and involved, valuable lessons are learned when a child must take responsibility for their own deadlines. reported on the stress put on parents due to the requirement to use parent portals:

An interesting question for the digital age, now that parents can access not only their child’s grades online, they can also often have access to blogs or websites where teachers can share – and parents are expected to read about – what’s going on in the classroom. Combine these online interactions with holding parents accountable for failing grades and arresting parents for truancy, and you’ve got a generation of parents feeling as if they’re expected to be omnipresent at home and at school.  How is anybody supposed to work?

A Colorado teacher recently said she “wants parents to monitor their children’s entire educational career online.” She says, “I post all my students’ responsibilities, their current and upcoming, and timelines for every project they have. I also post messages detailing the status of homework, whether it’s missing, late, or incomplete,”  and has a website highlighting her daily classroom schedule and invites parents to subscribe to her Twitter feed so they can follow her activities in and out of the classroom. Her students are in 3rd grade.

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The problem most parents have with these parent portals and constant online communication with teachers is that their kids are not learning how to manage their time and complete tasks on their own.

The goal of every parent should be to create responsible, independent children who can handle themselves in different situations as they grow.

Instilling a sense of personal accomplishment and responsibility is a valuable gift we can give our children.

And while we should all be involved in how our children are doing in school, and provide limited guidance with homework, many parents seem to agree that “parent portals” are doing nothing but adding stress to already limited family time.

Does your child’s school require you to access a parents’ portal?

Do you feel it has helped you and your child, or put more pressure on you to take on additional responsibilities?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.