Parent participation in school is often what’s missing in education.
The onus for quality education often falls on the teacher, but there are many factors that affect school performance. Seventy percent of a student’s time is spent outside of school, and while not all of that is spent with parents, they are a crucial component of success.
Studies show that parent participation in school, results in children have fewer behavioral problems and better academic performance. Teens are also more likely to graduate from high school. In addition, students perform better when their fathers are involved as well as their mothers, even if they do not live together.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates that schools develop ways to increase parent participation in school and inform parents of opportunities for participation in their children’s education. This can be in the form of face-to-face meetings, sending work folders home, or getting progress updates.
Schools that effectively communicate with parents and have healthy levels of parent participation in school share three key traits.
– Establish and maintain positive healthy interactions and relationships. There is a great deal of trust between parents and the school, particularly the teachers.
– Understand and respect the needs of the family. This can include recognizing and addressing needs based on culture, socioeconomic level, etc.
– Work together. Parents feel they are working with teachers for the good of the students. Parents and teachers work as partners; it is not a “lopsided” or power-based relationship. Instead of saying to a parent, “You may come to the classroom during scheduled events or designated times,” a response that shows a more equal and beneficial relationship would be, “You can come to the classroom anytime. If you’d like to know when events or presentations are occurring, I’d be glad to let you know.”
A convenient way for parents and teachers to communicate is online.
Through school websites, teachers can provide up-to-date information on class projects, curriculum, upcoming events, and more. This can be especially effective for parents of middle or high school students, when in-class involvement dwindles and becomes less helpful. Instead, staying updated and holding their students to high expectations is seen as an appropriate and helpful form of parent participation in school.
Many teachers and schools use a website to keep parents involved. At the end of each day, the teacher posts a summary of the day’s events. When parents ask “What did you do in school today?”, most kids, regardless of age, will respond, “Nothing.” With a website, parents can stay informed. Even family members far away can look and stay involved. Schools home weekly newsletters, which are also posted on the site. In addition, there are pictures of student projects and writing samples (with either initials or first names only).
Whether in person, online, or on the phone, parent participation in school is essential for student success. Levels of participation vary, but every student – even the middle and high school students – needs to know their parents are supportive of them and believe in them.