The Harvard Family Research Project defines educational involvement of families as activities that parents conduct at home and in early childhood settings to directly or indirectly support their child's learning. Involvement at the preschool level has a number of lifelong benefits, such as establishing the importance of education and developing a network of helpful connections. Parental involvement at this critical point provides the child with a springboard that makes the move to elementary school a more tranquil transition.
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Home and School Connection
Parents who are involved in their child's education create a connection between the home and school. Those who participate along with their child are privy to the many aspects of their child's day. At home, they are able to replicate and extend activities that their child experiences in school. An astute parent will pick up where the school left off and have an intuitive sense for what their child may need to work on to increase his competency and confidence. Ideas gleaned from the classroom give the parent inspiration for home activities that coincide with classroom tasks. Involved parents learn the names of various children in their child's class. They have a sense of who their child's friends are, who may be causing them trouble and how their own child is getting along in the group.
Back in the old days, if your parent showed up to school it usually meant you were in trouble. But for kids whose parents regularly involve themselves in school activities, parental visits are a positive adjunct to the child's day. Teachers and school staff appreciate assistance with a myriad of duties that many parents can easily fulfill while also adding a new face to the mix. On a deeper level, involvement in this capacity shows your child and your child's teacher that you view education as an important aspect of life - one worth participating in.
Early childhood education is just the beginning of your child's educational career. Involving yourself in a classroom setting allows you to get a peek into the world of young children. You may wonder why your child cannot draw shapes like Jennifer or speak as clearly as James. Taking the time to objectively determine where your child stands in his development is a key factor in getting to know and appreciate your child for who he is. Discover his strengths, interests and areas that need refining. If your child is struggling with certain aspects of his education, it is an ideal time to discuss concerns with your child's teacher or doctor.
Establishing a social network is one benefit of parental involvement that should not be underestimated. Parents of other children of similar age provide solace, sources of information and family connections that can be lifelong. Kids are apt to become friends with parents who are on a friendly basis. Social connections between children provide security when transitions, such as kindergarten, occur. A child may be more willing to join a group or activity if he has a friend willing to participate. Parents who are involved in their child's schooling can oil the social cogs for their children by demonstrating friendly openings.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Research News You Can Use: Family Engagement and Early Childhood Education
- Harvard Graduate School of Education: Getting Parents “Ready” for Kindergarten: The Role of Early Childhood Education
- University of South Florida: Increasing Parental Involvement in Early Childhood Education