« Is There a Generation Gap in Teaching? | Main | Do Computers Trump Learning? »

Do Parents Matter?

| 29 Comments

A recent study of low-income schools in California raised some eyebrows by concluding that, when it comes to student achievement, parental involvement is less important than a number of school-based instructional factors.

What's your view? How crucial is parental engagement to school success? How constructive are school efforts to increase parental involvement? What are the most effective ways to improve student learning?

29 Comments

Parental involvement is crucial for students' learning at primary school level. Because the children not having a sense of responsibility. It is the crucial formative stage. So parental involvement to enhance students' learning is essential. After that stage, students are capable to decide for themselves as to what and how they can study.

N.Pradhan
Head, Dept. of Educational Administratio,
The M.S.University of Baroda,
Baroda-390 002
India

I see positive results when parents get involved with underperforming students. What is frustrating is the large number of parents that do not respond to their child failing courses, especially freshmen. I have found that many parents of freshmen have a middle school mentality. They believe students will be passed at the end of the year whether they are passing during the year.

Parent involvement? It's a no-brainer. Mom and Dad started the process, were their at birth and are "teaching" their children every day in the home. The arrogance of educators to think that they know what is best for any child.

Why can't we recognize and support the parents to learn how to learn so they can pass that onto to the children. Where is the partnership? Where is the sense of community?

In certain situations, I can understand that 1) parents may have simply opted out, 2) the school is doing a bunch of specific, highly effective things to raise achievement, and 3) it's working.

But it would be a shame to generalize from this example and say parents have little or no impact. There's lots of research to show otherwise. Here's a nugget I happened on recently: The way math is taught in most North American jurisdictions, kids are expected to explain their mathematical thinking out loud, often with peers. Kids who come from homes where they are encouraged to express themselves and explain their thinking (and who probably hear their parents extending/scaffolding their talk) are in a better position to do this than kids who don't get that opportunity.

And as you know, we are constantly admonished to read to our kids. It's supposed to have some impact on them. Personally think the reading message is overdone (though it does have demonstrated benefits), but those are just two examples where parents are recognized as key players. I absolutely think parents are critical, and it would be nice if parents and teachers could work toward a better partnership--you know, something bigger than 15 minutes a couple times a year.
Jessica
http://thinkingkids.blogspot.com/

Parental involvement is very important and can be the make or break part of some childrens education. True, some children will do well no matter what the conditions are, weather their parents are involved in the educational process,while other children need the extra boost they receive from their parents involvement. Most schools encourage parents to become involved, but I have seen a trend, over the past decade, of schools discouraging parents from becoming involved. I believe it to be a control issue. As we parents have become more vocal about what we want and expect, some schools have taken a dim view, and would rather not deal with us. So, it is easier to not have parents involved at the school level. Fortunately, it is only a small percentage of schools involved in this practice. If parents want to see their children get the best education possible, then they need to get involved and stay involved.

In some instances, parents can have a huge impact on their child's education...re: helping children especially at the upper elementary level, to learn the important qualities of self-discipline, organization skills, and self-responsibility. Unfortunately, those students who lack these qualities, sometimes, but not always, learn from their parents, who are also lacking. I also see some parents who have straight A students who are very unhappy if their child brings home an A instead of an A+, and will laboriously correspond with me as to where the child is "failing" to measure up to their expectations. I feel sorry for these kids, as well.
Perhaps, since parenting does not come with a manual, it might be a good idea to once a month, or so, have a parental training conference,for an hour,rather than a dozen individual parent conferences, to give concrete, printed suggestions and guides to help their child succeed.

I can't imagine anyone believing that parental involvement would not help improve a child's educational experience and indeed have an effect on thier learning. Parental involvement has proven to have positive results time and time again. And while we can all agree parental involvment produces positive results, the fact is that without the proper environment and support at the schools parental involvement will not be enough. And with the proper environment and support at the schools parental involvement becomes an additional boost rather than the driver of achievment.

The research that generated this discussion was stating that parental involvment while important did not have as high a correlation to student achievement as some other factors.

How do we encourage, create more parental involvement in schools? I do not have the answer, but I do know some things that do not work. When my children were in schools I would try to volunteer to help and would not be called on to assist. When parents express interest, follow up had better be done. When follow up is not done some parents might lose interest. There sometimes seems to be either a protective environment and/or an exclusive club environment with parental involvement.

Timing is also important with parental involvment. Many parents work and cannot afford to take time off during the day. If there were more flexible times for participation then there might be more opportunity for some parents and consequently more involvment.

Improving student learning requires a multi-faceted approach. To believe that one solution will fix all is a very limited approach. Improving student learning needs to be attacked from a variety of areas and include long range rather than short range plans to effect lasting change.

Parents do make a difference in a child's achievement in school. I know because I am a parent and I also work with students. Another thing is I am currently going to school and I try to set a shining example of making good grades because I have a lot of eyes watching me. I've raised three children, the last of the three is a junior and in high school and wants to become a nurse. My middle child was a four sport athlete and it was understood that if he did not maintain a B average or better that he could not play sports. He graduated with a B average. The oldest daughter is working on a degree in the medical field. How successful they become is as a result of the parents being involved in their education. There are students that want that extra parent involvement, but do not have that luxury! Why because some parents are working several jobs just to make ends meet, but there are some parents that could care less. It is the educators that can encourage parental involvement as well as the students for the most parent. But sometimes students do not want parents involve, but the parents need to be anyway.

This is a slippery question. Teachers will often use parents' lack of involvement to be an excuse for why their students may be doing poorly. Obviously parental support and interest matters greatly to a child. Yet we educators need to take responsibility for what we can do. Marie Clay, a reknowned teacher from New Zealand commented that we schools have the kids for sic hours a day and must teach as deeply and hard as we can during that time. there may be factors we can't control outside- we can encourage and invite parents but we can't drag them in- but our charge is to be excellent and motivating teachers.

oops- make that "six"

Having worked in a wide range of public schools, I can attest that the correlation between achievement and parental involvement is not 1. I can recall many instances when parental involvement had negative effects on learning and on disposition toward learning.

Parents are an important part of the school system. In school we have the children for roughly 6+ hours, the parents have them the other
18. Both sides can agree that we want what's best
for their children. If we can use this as our goal, parents and teachers can maintain a dialogue. I hate to be corny, but the parents are the childrens first teachers; if they involved themselves in reading to their children, talking to them, it shows and makes our job a little lighter. We (parents and teachers) also have to
note that children are different in different situations. The child in school may be totally
one that the parent does not see at home. But each side should not put the other down. We need
each other to reinforce the good work that each
side does. As parents you send us your precious
child and we work to help him/her make the most of his/her time with us. If parents are really
present in their child's school life it's a win-win for them, teachers and most of all the children.

I believe that a parent/school partnership is vital to unleashing student's participation, love for education, and academic achievement.I know from experience,over more than 10 years teaching first graders, that the children of the parents who actively participate in my classroom, not only do better academically but also behaviorally. I have structured the school day in a way that allows parents to walk with their children to the classroom and remain for the first 25 minutes reading to their children and others. They also, especially the room parents play a tremendous role helping with the homework, going to field trips, helping organize projects, and so on. While the system pays a lot of lipservices to parent involvement, the reality is that most school principals and educators do not want to open up schools doors and classrooms doors to parents. They should be welcomed with open arms in the classrooms and in different school committees which deal with curriculum and hiring. Regarding the best way for children to learn, I believe that a good starting point will be for teachers to make instruction relevant to their students' lives by addressing and respecting who they are and the knowledge they bring to each school site. Furthermore, in a period of time when the number of English Learners is growing exponentially, training teachers to teach English, rather than the notion that if one spend the whole day speaking English, somehow one is actually teaching English. The notion of specially designning instruction in English; including the usage of a variety of strategies to make instruction or the input clear and abvious, must be taken seriously.

I believe that a parent/school partnership is vital to unleashing student's participation, love for education, and academic achievement.I know from experience,over more than 10 years teaching first graders, that the children of the parents who actively participate in my classroom, not only do better academically but also behaviorally. I have structured the school day in a way that allows parents to walk with their children to the classroom and remain for the first 25 minutes reading to their children and others. They also, especially the room parents, play a tremendous role helping with the homework, going to field trips, helping organize projects, and so on. While the system pays a lot of lipservices to parent involvement, the reality is that most school principals and educators do not want to open up schools doors and classrooms doors to parents. They should be welcomed with open arms in the classrooms and in different school committees which deal with curriculum and hiring. Regarding the best way for children to learn, I believe that a good starting point will be for teachers to make instruction relevant to their students' lives by addressing and respecting who they are and the knowledge they bring to each school site. Furthermore, in a period of time when the number of English Learners is growing exponentially, training teachers to teach English, rather than the notion that if one spend the whole day speaking English, somehow one is actually teaching English. The notion of specially designning instruction in English; including the usage of a variety of strategies to make instruction or the input clear and abvious, must be taken seriously.

Parents involvement.

I don't think parental direct involvement in schoolwork matters much at all. What matters are parental VALUES about schoolwork, which had to be taught long before the kids started school. Do the parents read? Are there books in the home? Are intelligent issues discussed, so that there is a life of the mind? These things teach a child that what goes on in school matters. Parents who hover over homework and drive the kid crazy do not.

Parental involvement: Some teachers want it and others think the parents are a nuisense. Having made the decision more than 12 years ago to homeschool because of the teachers involvement or lack of it, in my children's education bringing my children home was the only solution. I was an involved parent, I knew what my children were learning and we were working together. But because I have two ADD children and their learning was hindered by spending more of their time in the principals office than in the classroom, it took this parent 9 months to pull my children out. I did not do this because I felt I was a better teacher, I did this because they weren't learning at school! I tried to do school just like the schools and after a year of trying and pulling my hair out, I realized that that wasn't what they needed. They could not handle that structure, they needed to learn in their own way! They both have different ways and I had to meet those ways. My son was pulled out in his 6th grade year, he graduated 1 year ahead of his peers! He volunteered or worked where he loved and learned about aerospace science and botany. His heart for people has enabled him to succeed where his peers didn't. My daughter was pulled out in 3rd grade, she loved textbooks and to look up more than what was in there. She went back into the school system in her Jr/Sr. year of highschool and graduated with honors and as Salutatorian! Her credits from home transferred and she excelled in the classes she needed or felt she needed to take. She is one incredible teacher to children with ADD/ADHD because she understands and she willingly taught parents how to love their child and teach them.
So, should you involve the parent? Yes, you should teach them how to teach their children so they can effectively help with homework and learning styles. Give them the tools they need to succeed at home. Chances are you won't loose your students you will gain the confidence to work with the whole family unit.
Parenting doesn't come with instruction books and rearing your children usually comes from the way you were reared. To break a cycle you must teach. YOu must teach the parents how to parent so the child learns. Give the parents the tools to succeed with their child.

Communication between home and school is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success in school. Parents must stay involved and teachers must be at least minimally responsive to requests for information when a student needs help. Some teachers act as if they are an island unto themselves and should never be approached by parents. Thankfully, most teachers are not this way, but information that is available always seems to be a big secret. I thought that we all had the same goal in mind, to teach each student to reach their full potential.

OK so since when were "standerdized scores " the real measure of school success. No I haven't been living under a rock for the last 20 years, but come on people. the idea of correlating surveys with Standerdized scores may seem statistically relevant but does it have any real value? The whole difficulty with this approach is that I have never seen a study that linked high test scores with any long term success. The SAT, the most prolifically studied test in history, is only an accurate predictor of "end of college freshman year grades" and has not ever been an accurate measure of "aptitude" as it was originally intended. that's right folks, Standerdized tests do not measure what we want them to. That is reality. So trying to draw conclusions from the mix of highly subjective surveys with highly suspect (albiet neat and tidy) standerdized data seems like a job for the peanut gallery, er I mean the press and polititians. So we're stuck with standerdized tests, I accept that and to some extent useful information can be teased from the result. But saying parental involvement is incidental to school success (as measured by a standerdized tests)seems utterly foolish to me. Also let me add that, lest some one out there pooh pooh, my logic, that as school success is, I think we can all agree, the result of thousands if not millions of individual factors non-linear mathematics should apply, meaning a small difference in a seemingly insignificant factor that has even a minute causal effect can have drastic, and totally unpredicatable results. So I'll leave the postulations to the those who are fascinated by absurd abstractions. for goodness sakes I went to school for nearly 20 years, I hardly need the revelations of a scientific study to inform me whether involving parents in my class is going to make a meaningful difference in my students test scores, it is simply irrelevant.

In low socioeconomic areas, parental involvement can be of less value than in areas with educated parents. At times, (we don't like to say this, but it's true) parents can cause negative consequences for students.

Sometimes, reporting a student's lack of effort, achievement, or cooperative behavior can result in verbal abuse or physical punishment. Some parents tell their children that they don't have to do their homework because they're visiting relatives, shopping or helping parents with work. They believe the student's report on a problem situation and not the teacher's. I could go on...

Often times, teachers use a lot of their scarce free time making phone calls or explaining policies in conferences when parents are critical, confrontational, racist (as in white teachers and black parents) or otherwise nonsupportive.

I've been teaching for ten years in several poverty level, urban schools. These occurences are common and widely discussed among teachers.

I would definitely get my parents involved in our school children's education. Since, parents are the first teachers of their own children. Essentially,it's all about the way of how to bridge the way of communication between the schools and the parents. I think I might find out the information about the lectures related to raise up a spirit child etc. In other words, parents need to do some homeworks as well so that we have the same base to talk about how to improve the way of guiding our children.

As a parent and former school/home liaison, I have no doubt about the value of parental involvement. However, the new research findings do not surprise me, because I do believe the parent/school partnership in the research took on a different approach - one that treated parents as 'absent partners'. In much of what I've read over the years, it is this relationship between schools and parents that often gets in the way of students' school success. In an article I read some time ago, these poor relationships were likened to post divorce relationships between parents. One that is often fraught with poor communication, and general poor partnering that ultimately impacts the child. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot talks about the value of teachers and parents having conversations - partnership conversations that respect and value each other - in her book "The Essential Conversation: What parents and teachers can learn from each other". I do believe that both sides have to be open to learning from each other in order for parental involvement to have the impact it can have on the student learning.

I think parental involvement is important to a certain point. However, sometimes when parents don't seem to care and are more negative about the educational system it can have less of an impact. I can see why low income schools came out with the results of this study. Usually it is the low income parent that doesn't seem to understand the educational system and doesn't feel comfortable a school setting. This is when the support of parents probably doesn't matter. I think the answer to this true fact providing parents with programs so they can become aware of the impact they have. Without this assistance then it doesn't matter how involved you try to get parents, they just don't get it and don't really want to be involved.

The study probably should have reflected how many students succeed DESPITE PARENTAL SUPPORT. Children are born to parents and should be supported by them from birth to death. Its as simple as that. We cannot continue to excuse parents from the educational process while continuing to shoulder more responsibility for education. Society cannot afford it anymore, its already expensive enough. If education is not a priority in the home, then it will never be important to the offspring of these parents. The buck has to stop somewhere and it needs to be with the parents. If parents cannot afford the emotional, physical and educational expense of a child, then they shouldnt have them!

In response to: "Why can't we... support the parents to learn how to learn so they can pass that onto to the children. Where is the partnership? Where is the sense of community?"

In poverty communities, classroom teachers are subjected to extra workloads-- administrative, curricular, etc.-- to get low achievers up to speed on their skills, thanks to NCLB (which I approve of, by the way). Principals often prevent teachers from communicating with their group of parents by requiring prior submission of letters home. Sometimes we have to wait for translations. These approvals take so much time that, when time is of the essence, which it usually is, teachers don't bother. We rely on students to transmit information to parents, which is not always a good idea because it gives the children too much power. In many cases, children learn that they can be less than honest and get away with it. It's amazing how often report cards with poor grades never make it home and parents don't even notice! But that's another story...

We have almost no free time during the day for phone calls. We're exhausted at the end of the school day. It's hard to handle phone calls or conferences beyond school hours due to fatigue.

Consider this. Many poor urban school buildings are 40-60 or more years old. They cause health problems for students and teachers, including mold allergies and illnesses, heating and cooling problems, windows that won't close all the way, asbestos from crumbling floor tiles and roofs, poor cleanliness, poor maintenance due to budget problems... Teachers are overworked in substandard working conditions. What other professionals with masters degrees are subjected to this?

It's hard enough bringing students that are 2-3 grade levels behind in reading up to speed with all of the results of poverty, neglect and abuse without expecting us to TEACH THE PARENTS VALUES TOO. The latest pressure on teachers in schools "failing" according to state testing is that they tutor students after school hours. Enough already!

Parenting skills, how-to-help-your-child classes, GED and ESL night classes for adultsare necessary, but they are not the teacher's responsibility. The school system, county or city should step into those areas.

Unfortunately, parenting is the one thing for which few of us get to have a 'dry run', so knowing the context of emotional, financial or physical commitment before hand as a precursor to having and raising children is almost impossible. Still, I have to believe that most parents want what is best for their children, and wanted it before the children started school. Again, my 'bests' vary, it is very subjective and a teacher's impression of best for a child with whom they work 6 or 8 hours a week, is going to be different to the parent who is with them outside of the formal learning environment.

The fact that formal education has a set of learning and socialization standards that are not aligned with every single family, regardless of economic status, is NOT a fluke. School and Family are two different institutions, that for the most part, seek to be unlike each other while impacting the same child. If both institutions cannot communicate or agree on a 'best' for the child, agree on a common need, each institution will forever blame, discredit and find irreverent the standards of the other. Of course, when this becomes systemic, parents increasingly are choosing to home-school their children. See: http://www.uhea.org/stats.html

This is not to say either of these two institutions is wrong in the standards established for the student. Neither can it be said that one is more important than the other to the success of the student. The truth is that students need both parents and schools/teachers and both institutions need each other if we are to continue to educate our children in the manner that we have over the years. I again reference Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot's book from an earlier post - an essential read for parents and teachers.

When my daughter was in kindergarten, I was a single parent with 3 other children and worked 2 jobs.

Her teacher daily sent home homework for the class that was to be completed by both the parent AND child. I can't tell you the number of times I met with her to explain the family circumstances and that MY failure to participate nightly should not reflect on my child.

Since I simply didn't have time to do homework regularly, my shy, shrinking violet kindergartner got 'frowny face' stickers practically every day for something she had no control over and a hand-drawn frowny face on the ENORMOUS classroom chart for all to see (and I saw that I was not the only parent that did not/could not/would not do homework).

Repeated requests for a change of classroom/teacher were denied.

What a way to discourage a student - especially in her very first year in 'real' school! And no, it wasn't an issue of finding 5 or 10 minutes to sit down with my child. The homework was complex or time consuming - the stupid woman devised all sorts of elaborate projects and such over which the parent and child could 'bond' on a daily basis. Who was she to assume my daughter and I needed her assistance to 'bond'?? Did she not ever note the comfort level exhibited toward me by my daughter during our many meetings? Did she not note my daughter's close familiarity with many children's books; her reading skills; her manners? All which indicate intense involvement between family members.

Her job was to teach, not to do family counseling. Recommend family counseling, perhaps, but not practice it disguised as schoolwork!

More than half the time, I was at work until well after bedtime for the children. Exactly when was I supposed to do 'homework with my kindergartner'?

I took more time off from my day job to meet with the teacher... who really cared, yes, but what an idiot with a one-track mind!

And who in their right mind thinks punishing or publicly shaming a 5-yr-old for something completely out of their control is a good thing? And was that going to change the financial circumstances that prevented the PARENT from doing homework or otherwise participating??

Needless to say, my daughter became even more withdrawn and reluctant to participate - earning the brand of immaturity. At the end of the year I was advised she could possibly be 'pushed' to be promoted to 1st grade.

At this point I said "enough!". I felt it would be preferable for her to repeat kindergarten rather than be pushed - unready & unhappy - into the next grade level. It just seemed to me she would be starting an educational journey in which perhaps she'd never quite be 'ready' and where the possibility of repeating a grade later on would be more hurtful and/or confidence breaking.

With a new teacher and a 'do-over' of kindergarten, she gained an enthusiasm for school and thankfully, had your average school experience.

I think that as long as there is a value placed on education at home, that is all the child and teachers really need.

parental involvment sucks

Comments are now closed for this post.

Advertisement

Recent Comments

  • chase: parental involvment sucks read more
  • cj: I think that as long as there is a value read more
  • Kindergartener Parent: When my daughter was in kindergarten, I was a single read more
  • M. Kelly: Unfortunately, parenting is the one thing for which few of read more
  • 3rd Grade Teacher: In response to: "Why can't we... support the parents to read more

Archives

Categories

Technorati

Technorati search

» Blogs that link here

Tags

Pages