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Native Pathways to Education
Alaska Native Cultural Resources
Indigenous Knowledge Systems
Indigenous Education Worldwide


Presented to the Faculty
of the University of Alaska Fairbanks
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of
Edith Joan Hildebrand, B.B.A.
Fairbanks, Alaska
May 2005

The pdf verion of this document is:


I wrote this manual to provide Alaska Native parents with ideas on ways to get involved with their children in school. There is urgency to the need for Alaska Native parents to work with their children throughout their children’s educational years so the children can do well in school. Being a parent is a full-time job and time seems consumed with work, activities, family, and subsistence activities. Times are different from decades ago when the typical working parent was the man of the house and the wife stayed home helping their children with homework. Today, a majority of parents work to support the families and lack the time to become more involved with youth education. Sometimes parents will not make the time to work with their children, leaving education up to the administrators and teachers in the school system. Many times, children seem to fend for themselves. Without proper guidance, the consequences can be detrimental for the children themselves, for their families, for future employers, and for the community in which they live. People are quick to criticize the current school system but will very rarely participate in youth education to make it better.

There is a direct link between the level of parental involvement and a child’s success in school. When parents show an interest in their children’s education then their children are more apt to excel in school. When parents are involved from the start then as their children progress through the educational system, it is easier to communicate with teachers and school administrators, increasing their children’s success in school.

The lack of participation by Alaska Native parents can deprive their children of achieving their full potential. Communities lose out because as young adults with minimal education or experience move into adulthood, they are less likely to contribute to the economy in a productive manner. Employers may then face problems with absenteeism, higher turnovers, poor work ethics, and stagnant employees. Major changes in the current educational system are unlikely but Alaska Native parents have the choice to make it work for their children.

Parents who are actively involved in their children’s education won’t find themselves running around to get materials at the last minute when projects are due or panic when they get called and are told that one of their children is in the principal’s office. There are many ways for parents to involve themselves, from working on homework to making presentations to a class. Parents do not have to be in the school, on the school board or be sports parents to get involved. If parents show an interest in their children’s education, the children likewise become more interested.

Teachers are not the only parties responsible for the education of Alaska Native children. As active partners, Alaska Native parents must take the time to work with their children at home, making sure their children are safe, healthy, and making good choices. What children learn and see at home will affect how they behave in school.


  • are their children’s first teachers.
  • must provide their children with the tools to succeed in life.
  • have an obligation through coaching and teaching to help their children be proud, educated, contributing adults.
  • Are responsible for teaching their children to live healthy lives and must be positive role models.
  • should stand up for their children when it comes to education. No one else will stand up for them.
  • must make their children accountable for their individual actions.
  • make their children’s education worth their time.
  • must be proactive and not reactive.
  • raise the academic achievement level of their children at the schools.
  • have a right to participate in the education of their children.

Some ways that parents can be responsible for their children’s education are:

  • meet and talk with the teachers, one-on-one.
  • share expectations with the teachers.
  • keep in regular contact with the teacher.
  • provide the teacher with useful information about the children so the teacher knows the children’s strengths and weaknesses.

Alaska Native parents need to get involved in the education of their children right from the start. If every Alaska Native parent was directly involved in his or her child’s education, imagine the positive impact on the Alaska Native students. Success would be apparent on state standardized testing, more Alaska Native students would be graduating from high school, and more Alaska Natives will be in the active workforce. To get to this level requires Alaska Native parents to communicate with schools and be active partners in the education of their children.



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Alaska Native Knowledge Network
University of Alaska Fairbanks
PO Box 756730
Fairbanks  AK 99775-6730
Phone (907) 474.1902
Fax (907) 474.1957
Questions or comments?
Last modified August 14, 2006