“Although any help genuinely welcome, it is more important to be a supportive, proactive parent than is it to be a supportive parent after academic failure and negative behavior occur.” Tanga Liverman.
Truth is Parental Involvement (PI) is the missing link in education, the decline in public school exam results points to an absent parent. Parents have taken the back seat and only show up when exam results are released, pointing accusing fingers at poor teachers.
Our point of departure when dealing with PI should be the knowledge that, children do things to impress their parents. And that as babies, they respond with smiles to affirmation and positive words from parents. As a result, it goes without saying that PI isn’t optional.
A child’s education is cooked in a three-legged pot comprising parents, teachers and the learner. If parents abdicate their responsibility, things will go south and fastest. Putting things into perspective, Bob Beauprez wrote, “Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers, motivated students, and enthusiastic parents with high expectations.” This is because according to Kasapi, Gjylymsere, parents are their children’s strongest role model and greatest influence.
PI is when parents are directly involved in their children’s education, either involve themselves, or are involved by the school and teacher. “It does not just refer to parents enquiring about the performance of a learner in schools, but also in them taking a role in communicating with their children with the aim of having a healthy relationship with them, so that the process of encouraging, mentoring, leading and inspiring may be genuine.” Clinton & Hattie.
This is critical because parents are children’s first teachers, their very first link with the world hence, windows through which they view the world. Home is where the foundation for all learning is.
According to Centre for Child Well-Being, parental involvement not only improves a child’s morale, attitude, and academic achievement across all subject areas, but it also promotes better behaviour and social adjustment. It is further said that family’s involvement in education helps children to grow up to be productive, responsible members of the society, buttressing the mantra, ‘a parent is an educational resource’.
There are many ways through which parents can be involved: joining the Parent Teacher Association (PTA); being concerned about their children’s academic performance; showing dedication in their children’s learning through availing themselves during parents’ consultation or open days, in order to gain a better understanding of the performance of their children. “Parents can also be involved by means of follow-ups with their children’s subject teachers in order to identify areas where the children are facing challenges” Clinton. Also, parents can track performance of learners by recording marks from class assignments, test and exams.
Whenever children struggle, parents can contact their teacher, thus, building and strengthening the teacher-parent rapport which seals their commitment towards their children’s learning.
A parent could also lend a helping hand during school activities like Prize Giving Ceremonies, Fun Days, Sports Days and even in fund raising activities. Parents who have the means can support schools via donations.
There is also home-based PI in the form listening to the child read, reading with or for them; monitoring their study time and routine; hosting study partners for group discussions, supervising the group, as well liaising with other parents on ways to support the children; helping the child in completing their homework as well as other school-based activities; attending sports day and other extra-curricula activities where they partake and relieving them of chores during exam time.
Parents also have a responsibility to monitor TV and cellphone time. Children lock themselves in their rooms claiming to be studying when in fact they are browsing
There are a lot of benefits tagged to PI: teaching a child to value education brings a positive impact. Conway and Houtenville posit that parental effort is consistently associated with higher levels of achievement.
When parents are involved: children tend to achieve more, regardless of ethnic or racial background, socioeconomic status, or parents’ education level; children get better grades, and there is less likelihood of truancy; where there’s monitoring at home, children consistently complete their homework; seeing parents take interest in their studies makes children have better self-esteem, be more self-disciplined, show positivity and higher aspirations; on the whole there is improved behavior in school and less suspension for disciplinary reasons. Now picture a school that has supportive parents!
Children whose parents do not show up for school events, especially consultation are always frustrated and this impacts negatively on their studies.
The influence of parental involvement on a student’s academic success should not be underestimated. Learners whose parents are involved, are active, ready to learn, and learn punctuality from a young age. They learn persistence as parents would continuously enquire on their progress and would not want to disappoint.
At home, a parent knows their child best: their academic potential, social skills, innate attitude and overall character. The teacher on the other hand, may know very little, a child’s academic potential and relational skills may surface. A link between home and school thus, creates a fuller understanding of a student: a teacher can identify where to tap to unleash the child’s full potential.
With parents monitoring their school work and ensuring they meet deadlines, taking responsibility becomes children’s second nature as they plan ahead and do work according to schedule, which is being organized, a quality they take to adulthood.
Some children are lazy and come up with meaningless excuses in order to avoid doing their school work, knowing their parent is always on their case will make them pull up their socks.
The schools with more PI always perform higher in both academic and extra-curricular activities. Teachers become more motivated, committed and active as they are cushioned by parents’ support. A classic example is Nanogang JSS. Nanogang has always had supportive and involved parents hence its excellent performance.
Students with parents operating in supportive roles in school are more likely to enjoy school than students whose parents are disengaged. They become proud that their parents are showing responsibility and are respected by teachers.
Henderson and Birla postulated that the most accurate predictor of a student’s achievement in school is not income or social status, but the extent to which that student’s family is able to: create a home environment that encourages learning; express high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children’s achievement and future careers; and become involved in their children’s education at school and in the community.
“At the end, the most overwhelming key to a child’s life is positive involvement of parents.” Jane D. Hull
Finally, involved parents get a better understanding of teaching, appreciate the challenges teachers face and consequently have more respect for the teaching profession.
It doesn’t get truer than that!