Table of Contents Hide
- Benefits of Parental Involvement
- How Can Parents Get Involved?
- Tips for Parents to Increase Involvement
- Overcoming Barriers to Parent Involvement
- Benefits for Educators
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How much should I help with homework?
- How do I balance involvement with fostering independence?
- What if I work long or non-traditional hours?
- What if teachers don’t reach out about involvement opportunities?
- I want to volunteer, but don’t know how I can contribute. What are options?
- What if I had poor school experiences myself and feel uncomfortable?
- My child claims involvement is embarrassing. How can I be supportive without overly participating?
- How can I be involved if I work multiple jobs or lack transportation?
- What are the most important ways to be involved in middle and high school?
Parental involvement in a child’s education is one of the most important factors affecting their academic success and overall development. Research consistently shows that students with involved parents, regardless of socioeconomic status or background, have higher grades and test scores, better attendance, higher graduation rates, greater enrollment rates in post-secondary education, and more positive attitudes about school than students with less involved parents (Henderson & Mapp, 2002).
In this comprehensive guide, we will examine the research on parental involvement, discuss the benefits for students, provide tips for how parents can get involved, and answer frequently asked questions about this crucial topic. Whether you are a parent looking to support your child’s learning, an educator seeking to increase parental participation, or simply interested in the latest education trends, this guide covers everything you need to know about the powerful influence of parents on student success.
Benefits of Parental Involvement
Decades of research underscores the importance of parental engagement in boosting student achievement. When schools and families work together to support learning, students are more likely to:
- Earn higher grades and test scores. According to a comprehensive review of over 50 studies, parental involvement was strongly associated with higher student grades in school (Jeynes, 2005). Research also shows a positive correlation between parent involvement and higher scores on standardized tests like state assessments.
- Have better social skills and behavior. Students with involved parents have fewer behavioral issues and better social skills, likely due to having more positive role models at home. This leads to improved experiences at school.
- Graduate and attend college. Children with involved parents are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, and earn a postsecondary degree. The early foundation and expectations set by engaged parents paves the way for long-term academic success.
- Have more confidence. Students feel more competent and capable when their parents show interest and get involved in their schooling. Their self-esteem, motivation, and attitude towards school also improves.
- Enjoy school more. Parental involvement leads to children developing more positive perceptions about school and education overall. When families are engaged, students are more likely to enjoy the learning process.
Overall, research conducted over the past several decades consistently shows that students with involved parents no matter their income or background are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, enroll in higher-level programs, be promoted, pass their classes, earn credits, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, adapt well to school, and graduate and go on to post-secondary education (Henderson & Mapp, 2002). Parental involvement allows children to aspire higher and fulfill their maximum potential.
How Can Parents Get Involved?
Parent involvement encompasses a wide variety of practices both at home and at school. Here are some of the key ways parents can support their child’s learning:
- Establish routines and set expectations for studying, homework, and grades. Provide an environment conducive for learning.
- Talk to your child about what is happening in school and what they are learning. Ask questions that go beyond “how was your day?”
- Help and monitor homework assignments. Provide assistance, check for completion, but avoid doing the work for them.
- Read together every day and set an example as a lifelong learner. Discuss books, articles, and your own education.
- Foster life skills like time management, organization, planning, and goal setting. These form a foundation for academic success.
- Communicate expectations about effort, not just achievement. Praise hard work, not just high grades.
- Make learning engaging and relevant to your child’s interests. Incorporate education into real world experiences.
- Maintain an open line of communication with teachers through conferences, emails, notes, and phone calls.
- Volunteer when possible by chaperoning events, assisting in classrooms, joining the PTA, or taking part in school decisions.
- Attend school events like plays,sports games, science fairs, and music performances to show interest in what your child is learning.
- Participate in fundraising initiatives, back to school nights, open houses, committee work, and other opportunities at your child’s school.
- Develop positive relationships with teachers, administrators, and school staff. Be present and engage as a partner in education.
- Advocate for your child if challenges arise, but also work constructively with school leaders. Be a collaborative force, not adversarial.
While every family’s circumstances are different, any level of parental involvement will have a positive impact. Even small acts like reading to your child or talking about school over dinner make a big difference over time. By establishing parents as partners in the educational process, schools and families can ensure student success.
Tips for Parents to Increase Involvement
Making parental involvement a priority requires effort, but the rewards are immense. Here are some practical tips for how busy parents can get more engaged:
- Schedule involvement by marking important school dates like conferences on your calendar. Treat it like an important meeting or appointment.
- Identify your availability whether it’s volunteering once a week or chaperoning one event a semester. Recurring consistency is key.
- Share your skills and talents like coaching a sports team, leading an art project, or giving a career talk to a class.
- Switch off attending events or meetings with your spouse or co-parents. Divide and conquer responsibilities.
- Respond promptly to school communications like emails, notes home, or permission slips.
- Initiate communication with teachers when issues arise or you have questions rather than waiting for them to contact you.
- Set notifications to stay on top of school updates, assignments, tests, and events. Use an agenda to organize school activities.
- Arrange alternative commitments like work schedules to be available for high priority school events and meetings.
- Overcome language barriers by asking for written notes or a translator/interpreter so you can actively participate.
- Explain cultural traditions or family expectations that might impact involvement so schools understand your situation.
- Swap childcare with other parents so you can take turns being involved and watching each other’s children when needed.
- Build relationships with other parents and exchange ideas on how to provide academic support at home.
With some advance planning, consistency, and creativity, every parent can become an active partner in their child’s learning. Small steps add up to huge strides in fostering student success.
Overcoming Barriers to Parent Involvement
While parental involvement is crucially important, it can also be challenging for many families. Here are some common obstacles and how parents can overcome them:
- Busy work schedules – Ask employers for flexibility to attend school events, swap shifts with co-workers, or use lunch breaks for calls with teachers.
- Lack of transportation – Request conference calls with teachers or virtual meetings when possible. Set up carpools with other parents.
- Childcare needs – Trade off childcare with other parents, use community resources, or explain childcare conflicts and request accommodations.
- Non-flexible school event times – Ask schools to vary times, provide recordings, or give adequate advance notice.
- Language barriers – Request translators or interpreters, use Google Translate to read communications, and ask bilingual parents for help.
- Unfamiliarity with school system – Attend orientation events, take tours, and request meetings to learn about the school. Ask questions!
- Negative past experiences – Keep an open mind, communicate concerns, seek common ground, and give schools a chance to improve engagement.
- Feeling intimidated or unwelcome – Build relationships with staff and diverse parents, surfacing biases or barriers respectfully so they can be addressed.
- Lack of teacher outreach – Take the initiative to introduce yourself and express your desire to be an active partner in classroom and school.
Do not allow obstacles to deter you from being involved. Identify challenges your family faces, then brainstorm solutions with the school. Ensure your voice is heard. When parents demonstrate commitment and interest in partnering with schools, staff are empowered to think creatively about how to foster engagement.
Benefits for Educators
While parental involvement clearly provides immense benefits for students, it is also advantageous for schools and teachers when families take an active role in education. Here are some of the key advantages for educators:
- Higher teacher morale and more positive school environment. Parental participation affirms teachers’ efforts and the importance of school.
- Improved teacher understanding of students’ cultures and home life. This enables more effective learning strategies.
- Better perception of schools in the community when families are invested and engaged. This also increases funding support.
- Enhanced school programs, policies, and practices based on parent input and needs. Parent voice shapes better decisions.
- Increased access to community resources, partnerships, and volunteers that enrich classrooms.
- Higher student attendance and fewer disciplinary issues. This allows for more uninterrupted instruction.
- Greater teacher satisfaction seeing student progress and success with the help of family involvement.
When educators meaningfully collaborate with students’ first teachers – their parents – it cements a team focused on academic achievement and developmental growth. Making parents partners in the process leverages an essential resource for helping schools fulfill their mission.
Parental participation in education has consistently proven to be one of the top predictors of student success in school and life. While every family faces barriers to involvement, research shows that any level of engagement — no matter how big or small — can positively impact children’s learning experiences and outcomes. By demonstrating interest, providing academic support, communicating with schools, volunteering when possible, and collaborating as partners in the educational journey, parents can amplify their child’s achievement and help schools fulfill their mission. Both families and educators share a common goal of nurturing each student’s potential. Through purposeful, determined work to enhance involvement, parents and schools can join forces to make that goal a reality for all children.
Frequently Asked Questions
Parental involvement in education elicits many questions from both families and schools. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions:
How much should I help with homework?
Provide structure, space, and supplies at home to complete homework. But avoid doing the work. Offer guidance, not answers. Checking homework signals its importance.
How do I balance involvement with fostering independence?
In early grades, provide more hands-on assistance. As they age, gradually shift to monitoring and advising to build responsibility. Adapt support based on maturity.
What if I work long or non-traditional hours?
Still demonstrate interest by attending one or two events per term. Prioritize parent-teacher meetings. Schedule teacher calls during breaks.
What if teachers don’t reach out about involvement opportunities?
Politely initiate contact yourself and express your interest. Provide your availability and preferred communication methods.
I want to volunteer, but don’t know how I can contribute. What are options?
All parents have strengths to share! You can chaperone events, tutor students, assist in the classroom, proctor exams, give career talks, lead clubs, and much more.
What if I had poor school experiences myself and feel uncomfortable?
Overcome negative perceptions by focusing on your child. Approach involvement with an open mind and you may be pleasantly surprised.
My child claims involvement is embarrassing. How can I be supportive without overly participating?
Stress that you participate because you care, not to embarrass them. Balance involvement with giving appropriate independence based on age.
How can I be involved if I work multiple jobs or lack transportation?
Speak with teachers to explain your circumstances. Request calls/emails if you cannot attend in person. Suggest virtual involvement ideas.
What are the most important ways to be involved in middle and high school?
Attend back to school events, monitor grades and homework, communicate with teachers, guide extracurriculars and planning for the future.
Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
Jeynes, W. H. (2005). A meta-analysis of the relation of parental involvement to urban elementary school student academic achievement. Urban education, 40(3), 237-269.