Parents hold key to whether children succeed in school
WE INTUITIVELY avoid the questions about the meaning of parental involvement in education, what it looks like and how to make it happen.
As the 2017 school calendar gathers pace and today’s frenetic world, technology, consumerism, career parents and growing parental responsibilities contribute to overfull schedules, the message for parents couldn’t be clearer: Get involved in your child’s education daily, establish expectations for achievement and conduct, and communicate with teachers. If parents hold true to these simple guidelines, their children will blossom.
We recognise the challenges parents face in holding down a job, managing a household and raising a family. It seems there aren’t enough hours in the day. Many children also live with single parents, or are being raised by relatives or foster parents. Still, carving out some time, even if it’s brief, can make a difference. If parents ignore these simple guidelines, they place their children’s future at risk.
What does parental involvement mean? Is it going to parent-teacher meetings? Baking cookies to raise funds for the school? Monitoring your children’s work? Helping out in class? Speaking up when there’s a problem?
The first but potent way for parents to become engaged is to read communication from the school that includes a list of the ways in which they can become involved, such as taking part in lessons or volunteering at sporting events.
Experts say the first five years of a child’s life lays the foundation for success in school. Yet some children are deprived of those building blocks when their parents don’t invest the time to help them.
Poverty and unemployment often force both parents to work, sometimes two jobs, leaving little time for the kids. But even rich kids suffer when their parents don’t place the proper emphasis on schoolwork.
Many obstacles might hinder parental participation, including a reluctance to be seen to be interfering in the school’s affairs, school personnel’s negative attitudes toward parents, and parental insecurities concerning schools.
We know that family involvement tends to decline as children age.
Parents need to believe they can make a difference, and they will not be excluded or intimidated because they understand the problem and want solutions.
We know there are multiple challenges. Many young adolescents begin to assert their independence, distance themselves from parents and rely more on peer opinion. Also, as youth transition from elementary to middle school, most parents or other primary caregivers face the shift from communicating with one teacher to juggling multiple teachers and subjects.
Despite this, it’s essential that we understand the importance and significance of a shared parent-teacher responsibility.
In spite of socio-economic pressures, pupils lucky enough to have involved parents are more likely to earn higher marks, attend school regularly and graduate.
While some teachers may feel frustrated by the lack of parental involvement, our priority is to re-involve all parents. We need to have parents working with their children, communicating with the teachers, and taking part in the schools and classrooms.
Research has shown that parents who are partners with their child’s school make a positive difference in their school performance. Psychologists and career counsellors say the most accurate predictor of a pupil’s achievement isn’t family income or social status, but the value a pupil’s family places on education and the creation of a home environment that encourages learning.
There are technological advances that make communication easier and quicker.
Parents and teachers may choose from an array of modes to stay in touch. Many schools have incorporated email, websites and electronic newsletters to disseminate information. Others have established parent portals. Some schools text families regarding absences or homework and others use online social networks.
What happens before and after class is as important as school.
The best investment we can make in our children’s education is our attention, time, encouragement and involvement.
Parents hold the key to whether their children succeed or fail in school.