Thursday, July 21, 2011

Building Social Capital in the Community to Improve Student Learning

This a guest post by Troy Edwards of Home Tuition Agency.

Now more than ever, it is important for schools, parents, and communities to collaborate. The process of earning social capital involves networking throughout the school community. Gains are made through cooperative group efforts. Social Capital is an investment towards the education of today’s youth by utilizing the resources available. Gaining social capital helps build confidence within and strengthens the school community.

Various establishments, like churches, volunteer organizations, and local businesses, are willing to contribute to the well being of the students within their community. When you give to your community, your community gives back; it’s a win-win. There are ways to improve the academic, behavioral and extra-curricular needs of the students. These include, building solid networks with influential organizations, businesses and people. The needs of the students can be met outside or inside of the school walls with social capital.

If a student is having difficulty at school, which cannot be easily resolved by the involvement of a teacher or administrator, the school may seek to find an influential community leader to help: A former coach, member of the military, family priest, local business owner; basically, an adult not affiliated with the school that would make an impression on the child. When the school’s resources have been exhausted, it’s helpful to search elsewhere for a good mediator and solution provider.

Many students will benefit by volunteering at local businesses for real world experience, but lack the knowledge and guidance of how to participate. It’s important to invite representatives to the school who will speak with the students on how to become volunteers. The value of volunteering not only awards the students with a sense of their role within the community, but also gives them a special kind of insight into principles, norms and values.

Students tend to be receptive to adult volunteers who aren’t teachers or employed by the school. Parents are a great resource; their volunteer work at the school is invaluable. Additionally, local retired teachers are eager to act as mentors and tutors. Since many retired teachers choose to remain an active part of their communities, and their schools, several are willing to mentor and tutor children in need. Positive networking between adult volunteers and teachers can generate ideas about how best to create a positive learning environment in both the home and school settings.

Whether in the classroom, in a volunteer setting, or at home, students of all ages can benefit from the development of social capital. Educational institutions and the community surrounding them are our best resources. Involvement of local business representatives, humanitarian organizations, and former school staff can be a valuable factor in assisting children during their formative years.

Troy Edwards writes for Home Tuition Agency where you can find a Home Tutor to meet the needs of your child.