At last year’s Black Caucus, the Obama administration called upon the educational system to include parents as an integral part of their child’s education. Over the past 40 years, Hyde Schools have seen firsthand the impact this can make on children’s lives, and perceive it as the best way to move forward together in learning, healing, and leading.
True to form, Hyde School, known as a forerunner in character education, recently hosted fifteen families from one of its sister schools, the Hyde Leadership Charter School in the Bronx, New York, for one of many of its family education workshops.
The Hyde School family program was launched in order to involve parents in their children’s education in a productive way.
“In order to help kids develop their character, the primary influencers, the adults in their lives, have to be involved,” says Hyde Organization President Malcolm Gauld. “We can’t just pour it into them and then walk away and expect it to happen on its own.”
With that in mind, Hyde developed a program to connect parents with their children’s character development. It has evolved into a primary component of students’ education at the Hyde schools.
Now in its third decade, the organization, which consists of public schools in Bronx, New York, Washington DC, and New Haven, Connecticut, and boarding schools in Woodstock, Connecticut and Bath Maine, has seen the impact such a program has had on both inner-city and boarding school students and their families. Over the years, other schools have partnered with the organization in order to implement similar programs in their own school communities.
“School administrators often recognize the need for a positive parental role in their students’ educations,” says Gauld. “We provide training for teachers and parents to help them get that process started.”
The Hyde School Bronx families participated in a variety of activities “aimed at helping them to better communicate and trust each other,” offers Pam Hardy, the program director.
“Parents, along with their children, were asked to talk about three pivotal moments in their lives,” she says. “Additionally, they were asked to discuss difficult relationships in their lives, they completed an exercise aimed at building trust and listening skills, and they made family timelines.”
Exercises such as what Hardy describes are designed to place parents in both mentoring and learning roles with their children. The trust that is developed between children and their parents eventually opens doors to honest communication, allowing families to evolve in the way they interact and move through day-to-day challenges.
“I was very happy with how the weekend went,” says Donna Dubinsky, head of family education at Hyde School. “The families had the opportunity to visit our rural Woodstock campus and participate in a retreat that helped them to strengthen family bonds. The kids did not want to leave at the end of the weekend!”