Why Parental Involvement Matters
Students, parents and schools reap the rewards of teamwork
The lack of parental involvement in a child’s education is the biggest problem public schools are facing, according to information published in the Michigan Department of Education. Yet research suggests 86% of the general public believes support from parents is the most important way to improve schools.
Not only is student achievement higher when parents are involved in the education of their children, but schools improve as well. Making the argument for parental involvement even more powerful is the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) equated family participation to students’ academic success regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnic/racial background or parents’ educational level.
The PTA also found parents are much more likely to become involved when educators encourage and assist parents in helping their children with schoolwork, presenting a strong suggestion for schools and parents to develop effective home learning tools to promote student achievement. That is especially important given school-age children spend the majority of their waking hours outside of school rather than in class.
No matter which side of the debate you are on regarding the legitimacy of homework, it can be used as a strategy to involve parents in benefiting their children academically. Homework helps students in a number of ways. Developing a greater understanding of what they have learned may seem the most obvious, but out-of-class work also leads to better time management and acquiring effective habits of self-discipline.
There are both immediate and long-term effects associated with homework, as well as non-academic outcomes. Better critical thinking skills and better information processing are immediate effects seen on achievement and learning. Using leisure time for learning activities and an improved attitude toward school are viewed as a long-term academic effect of homework, while greater self-direction, greater selfdiscipline and more independent problem solving are noted as non-academic effects. When parents are encouraged and provided strategies to make homework activities with their children meaningful, it stands to reason student achievement will result.
Perhaps one of the most profound findings is research published by the Michigan Department of Education points to parental involvement as being two to 10 times more predictive of students’ academic success over other factors such as family socioeconomic status. Effective forms of parental involvement do not center around bank accounts, but rather parents engaging and working directly with their children on learning activities in the home.
Benefits to Students
There is a direct relationship between parental involvement and a child’s education, and the benefits to students are numerous. Again, as reported by the PTA: When parents are involved, students have higher grades, higher test scores, higher graduation rates, increased motivation, better selfesteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased use of drugs and alcohol, and fewer instances of violent behavior. Additionally, when parents are involved in education, children are more likely to have positive attitudes about school, demonstrate improved attendance, and show better study habits than those whose families are less involved. The continuance of education beyond high school is another component of parental involvement, as research now documents students will benefit through fewer placements in special education and increased enrollment in postsecondary education.
Benefits to Parents
Parents reap benefits as well when they are involved. Noted advantages include more confidence in their child’s school, higher teacher opinions of parents and higher teacher expectations of their children, and greater confidence in themselves as parents and in their ability to help their children learn at home. This equates to a higher likelihood that parents themselves will enroll in continuing education to advance their own schooling. Still, the most significant gain is the benefits afforded to their children when parents become involved in school.
Benefits to Schools
Given that the biggest problem facing public schools is the lack of parental involvement, it stands to reason when parents involve themselves in their child’s education, schools improve from the inside out. Parents rate teachers more highly, which leads to improved teacher morale. There is more support from families, higher student achievement, and schools benefit by having better reputations in the community. If that is not convincing enough, experts bring clarity to the relationship between parental involvement and schools through the realization that “parent involvement leads to feelings of ownership, resulting in increased support of schools and the willingness to pay taxes to support schools.”
All research aside, there is one overarching statement that can be made that should get all of our attention. When parents get involved in their child’s educational journey and learning happens as a result, everyone wins.
Nichole E. Bourgeois, Ed.D., Bossier Schools assistant superintendent of curriculum. Editor’s note: Parents can access the “At Home Student Support” toolbox by visiting www.bossierschools.org and clicking on the ‘Parents’ tab. There is also a wealth of information available at the Parent Center, located at 1520 Cox Street in Bossier City, or https://www.bossierschools.org/parent_center.