To the Editor:
The article “Parents Get Training to Support Children” (Jan. 30, 2013) examined Washington state’s Innovation by Design Initiative that trains parents to assist in the development of children’s executive functioning.
The insightful effort by state officials to identify the need and benefit of developing the executive-functioning skills of both the parent and child was innovative. It is my opinion that additional longitudinal data from the targeted demographic groups are needed. Nevertheless, the parental testimonies gave insight on how the program has assisted in building the relationship between parent and child.
As a principal, I observe children with executive-functioning deficiencies and families who experience intergenerational hardship. Thus, I have witnessed the necessity for parents to both understand the development of their children’s mental health and similarly be provided the tools and strategies to effectively assist their children.
The use of practitioners assuming the roles of mentors and coaches and subsequently providing feedback is indeed an operative way to address parental skills and executive functioning.
Sociologist Joyce Epstein’s well-known theory of “overlapping spheres of influence” indicates that student growth and achievement are shaped by the home, school, and community. I believe Washington’s initiative offers parents the tools and strategies to build upon the home component, and the state should be applauded for its effort.
Phyllis L. Gillens
Magnolia Elementary School
A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2013 edition of Education Week as Parents Sometimes Need Help to Help Children