“The child’s first and most important teacher is the parent.”
– Author unknown-
In this week’s column I would like to refer to several studies that demonstrate the importance of parental involvement in the educational success of the child.
Parent involvement is defined as having an awareness of and involvement in schoolwork, understanding of the interaction between parenting skills and student success in school, and a commitment to consistent communication with educators about student progress. (NMSA Research Summary, “Parental Involvement,” August 2006)
In this summary researchers identified three constructs of parent involvement: (1) communication, (2) supervision, and (3) parental expectations and parenting style. Communication refers to parents’ frequent and systematic discussions with their children about homework. Supervision includes monitoring when students return home from school and what they do after school, overseeing time spent on homework and the extent to which children watch television. Parental expectations and parenting style were found to be the most critical of the three. These include the manner and extent to which parents communicate their academic aspirations to their children. The high expectations of parents and student perceptions of those expectations are associated with enhanced achievement.
Author Laura J. Colker (“Family Involvement: A Key Ingredient in Children’s Reading Success,” education.com) states that a home environment that encouraged learning is more important to student achievement than the family’s income, education level, or cultural background. Quoting Kellaghan, Sloane, Alverez, and Bloom (1993) in their book “Home Environment and School Learning,” she summarizes the phenomenon this way:
“The socio-economic level or cultural background of a home need not determine how well a child does at school. Parents from a variety of cultural backgrounds and with different levels of education, income, or occupational status can and do provide stimulating home environments that support and encourage the learning of their children. It is what parents do in the home rather than their status that is important. (p.145)
In 2001 the Michigan Department of Education organized tidbits of research that support the need for parental involvement in their child’s education. Following are a few of those findings:
•School age children spend 70 percent of their waking hours (including holidays and weekends) outside of the school.
•Eighty-six percent of the public believes that support from parents is the most important way to improve the schools.
•Lack of parental involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools.
•Decades of research show that when parents are involved students have:
*Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates
*Better school attendance
*Increased motivation, better self-esteem
*Lower rates of suspension
*Decreased use of drugs and alcohol
* Fewer instances of violent behavior
•The more parents participate in schooling, in a sustained way, at every level – in advocacy, decision-making and oversight roles, as fundraisers and boosters, as volunteers and para-professionals, and as teachers at home – the better for student achievement.
The Morgan County School District welcomes and appreciates those parents who are involved in our schools and the academic success of their children. We encourage you to work with the classroom teachers and administration in this endeavor. Together we can better prepare our students for responsible citizenship, meaningful work, advanced education, and life-long learning.
“Parental involvement in education is like the frosting on a cupcake, it makes it complete and oh so sweet!” –Author unknown-