THE IMPORTANCE OF GETTING INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION

                 Without a doubt, students whose parents become involved in their education tend to perform better academically  than those whose parents fail to do so.  In my years as a teacher and dean of discipline, I have observed that the participation of parents is important in two areas.  In the first place, parents need to help their children with their homework and other assignments or find someone who can do so.  This, of course, does not mean that the parents or an assistant should do the students’ assignments for them; they should only be there to help  students understand the assignments and then have them do as much as they can on their own.  The diligent involvement of parents in this area is vital if a parent strives to have his or her children get good grades and aspire to continue to a higher education after high school.

                In addition, parents should become directly involved in the activities that their children participate in at school. Parents who are up-to-date  and know the assignments and projects their children need to complete are parents definitely in control, since they have the necessary information  to guide their children in an effective manner.

                According to the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education from Johns Hopkins, students whose parents are involved enjoy the following advantages:

 They earn higher grades and test scores and venture into taking more challenging educational programs.

They generally pass their classes and earn credits and are promoted to the next level.

They attend school regularly.

They have superior social skills, exhibit better behavior and adapt well to school.

They graduate from high school and continue on to post-secondary education.

          Joyce L. Epstein, Ph.D., of the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education of the University of Johns Hopkins, created the Six Types of Parent Involvement:  Keys to Successful Partnerships:

                TYPE 1: PARENTING : Assist families with parenting skills and setting home conditions to support children as students.  Also, assist schools to better understand families.

                TYPE 2: COMMUNICATING: Conduct effective communications from school-to-home and from home-to-school about school programs and student progress.

                TYPE 3: VOLUNTEERING: Organize volunteers and audiences to support  the school and students.  Provide volunteer opportunities in various locations and at various times.

                TYPE 4: LEARNING AT HOME: Involve families with their children on homework and other curriculum-related activities and decisions.

                TYPE 5: DECISION MAKING: Include families as participants in school decisions, and develop parent leaders and representatives.

                TYPE 6: COLLABORATING WITH THE COMMUNITY: Coordinate resources and services from the community for families, students and the school, and provide services to the community.

                The following section includes information compiled from the article “The Home-School Team: An Emphasis on Parent Involvement published in Edutopia.

                Students learn better when the relevant adults in their lives —  parents and other members in their family and teachers and other members of the community — work together to encourage them and support them.  Schools cannot meet all the needs of the student without the support of these members of the community; the positive involvement of  parents and the support of the community are essential.

                In the past, this relationship was natural and easy to sustain.  Today’s society, however, has become more complex and more demanding, and to maintain this relationship between the school and the community  has become much more difficult.  Neither school personnel nor the parents have enough time to get to know each other well and to develop positive relationships beneficial for the children. Consequently,  in many cases, there are misunderstandings, distrust and lack of respect for one another; therefore, when the student fails to perform well academically, the teachers blame the parents and the parents blame the teachers.

                It is imperative that schools contact their students’ families and make them feel welcome as partners in the educational process.  Families, in turn, must dedicate time and effort to support  their children at home and at school.  The significant and positive involvement of parents is valuable and necessary  to improve the academic development and achievements of their children.

                Some of the parents may have experienced failure in their school days and may feel uncomfortable upon entering the classrooms of their children.  Before establishing an effective partnership, schools and the families of these communities must learn to respect each other and to have confidence in one another.  Very few schools have open-door  policies  to allow parents to visit at any time, and the parents who insist on being active partners in the education of their children sometimes are considered problematic.

                As for the partnership of the schools with parents and other members of the community, some of these schools may see this as a transference of power from school personnel to the parents.  But really it is not a transference of power; it is the act of sharing  the power.  It is the act of sharing the power with all the adults who have an interest in the academic development of the students.

                There are several ways in which parents can become involved  in the education of their children.  There is the traditional way:  encouraging students to do their assignments, attending  conferences of parents and teachers and being active members of the organization of parents and teachers (PTA) of their school.  There are also other activities that require more dedication: serving as mentors,  teachers’ aids or assistants in the cafeteria or providing assistance to schools and students in several activities.

                Another model of parent involvement is presented in an article titled “What Research Says about Parent Involvement in Children’s Education, published by the Michigan Department of Education.  It enumerates the following types of parent involvement:

Establish a daily family routine. Examples: Providing time and a quiet place to study, assigning responsibility for household chores, being firm about bedtime and having dinner together.

Monitor out-of-school activities. Examples: Setting limits on TV watching, checking up on children when parents are not home, arranging for after-school activities and supervised care.

Model the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work. Examples: Communicating through questioning and conversation, demonstrating that achievement comes from working hard.

Express high but realistic expectations for achievement. Examples: Setting goals and standards that are appropriate for children’s age and maturity, recognizing and encouraging special talents, informing friends and family about successes.

Encourage children’s development/ progress in school. Examples: Maintaining a warm and supportive home, showing interest in children’s progress at school, helping with homework, discussing the value of a good education and possible career options, staying in touch with teachers and school staff.

6. Encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members. Examples: Reading, listening to children read and talking about what is being read.

                Perhaps parents can devote their time to go to the school their children attend and observe to see what  their children and the teachers are doing.  Remember that youngsters constantly receive messages from the adults who are important in their lives.  When students notice that their school and their parents are associated in a respectful relationship for their benefit, they tend to develop a more positive attitude toward school and perform better, as compared to situations where the home and the school are viewed as entities in separate worlds.

                It is vitally important that parents and teachers communicate efficiently with each other.  They both are interested in the development of students and both can be more effective when the lines of communication are open and they share information.  Continuous communication  helps to assure that schools and parents are ready to respond to the needs of students and, therefore, support their general development.

                Part of this interaction should be face-to-face either at school, at home or any other convenient place.  It should be considered an integral part  of the teaching process, and enough time should be dedicated during regular work hours so that school personnel  can carry it out.

                Modern technology can permit parents and teachers to form a firmer network of mutual support  than in the past.  They can share information via emails and electronic bulletin boards year-round, 24 hours a day.

                Schools can establish programs in which local businesses and other partners can collaborate to create systems whereby families can have access to computers and other vital electronic tools  that students would otherwise find inaccessible.  These devices also must be available for parents in a variety of public locales such as schools, libraries and other governmental entities.  There should also be free or reasonably priced classes to teach school personnel and parents how to use them to promote the teaching process.

                A requirement for success in the modern world is the never-ending quest for learning in the life of a human being.  Parents and other members of the community can attend classes at a school or study at home using long-distance learning technology with content provided by the local school or by other schools located in different cities.

                In conclusion, those who benefit from the partnership of parents and school personnel are the students.  When one enters a school and sees parents and teachers working together in all kinds of activities, one can make the safe assumption that the school is challenging its students to put out their best effort and it helps all students, regardless of ethnicity, social class or religion to perform up to their maximum potential.

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