Most people in and around education understand that a parent/parents being involved in their child’s education can be a difference maker. There has been a lot of study into the subject and a lot of strategizing about how to best get parents engaged in their child’s school.
But why is this important? The research is strong.
- Parent involvement has a measurable impact on student performance in school, and seems to be particularly important for English-learning students and those from low-income areas.
- Improved communication between parents and teachers leads to better homework completion rates, in-class behavior, and participation.
- At-risk behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse or violence, decreases if parental involvement increases.
But a common misperception is that parent involvement is limited to only a few options, such as involvement in the PTA/PTO or attending parent conferences. There is much more a school can do to welcome the whole family into the community.
- Schools can provide parenting support groups and guidance classes, showing that they are willing to educate not only the student.
- Establish two-way communications between school and home, with a balance of mostly positive information. If parents only hear negative things from the school, they are likely to disengage.
- Schools can actively recruit parents to volunteer for much more than chaperoning field trips.
- Schools can make it easier for parents to involve themselves in their child’s work at home. Bilingual directions in ELL communities have shown to be particularly effective.
- Parents are engaged in school decisions, through parent organizations or other informal means.
- Schools can work with other community organizations to broaden the reach of their services and message, showing that education is a community effort.
The goal of every school should be to establish a community, not only within the walls but also in the streets. An inclusive school can be the center of a community, where neighbors come together to help each other, exchange ideas, and – most importantly – support their children.