Much research exists about the importance of parent involvement in education. The research overwhelmingly indicates that parent involvement not only positively affects student achievement, it contributes to higher quality education and better performance of schools overall. Yet both schools and parents struggle with how to make that involvement happen. The U.S. Department of Education reports that the rate of parent involvement drops to 55 percent by the time children reach age 14, and it continues to drop as children progress through high school.
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One recent study, conducted by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory in 2002, analyzed several different pieces of existing research on parent involvement in education. Results of the study, released in a report titled “A New Wave of Evidence,” found that students whose parents are actively involved in their education are more likely to attend school regularly, adapt well to school, take advanced classes and excel academically. These students also tend to have better social skills, and they are more likely to graduate from high school and attend post-secondary school.
Students of all races and ethnic groups benefit when their parents are involved in their education, according to William H. Jeynes in “Parental Involvement and Student Achievement,” a meta-analysis of parental involvement and student achievement studies conducted as part of the Harvard Family Research Project. The one aspect of parent involvement that has the most impact on student achievement, according to Jeynes, is parental expectations. Students achieve more when their parents expect more.
Both students and schools benefit when parents are involved in education. Academic achievement and standardized test results are higher, students have a more positive attitude toward school and their behavior is better. Other benefits include more successful academic programs and schools that are generally more effective.
Types of Involvement
One of the best ways for parents to be involved in education is to communicate regularly with teachers. Think of yourself as the teacher’s partner in managing your child’s education. Monitor your child’s homework and school projects, making them a top priority in his schedule. Another way parents can be involved is to volunteer at the school. All kinds of opportunities exist, such as helping in the classroom, conducting fundraisers and assisting with extracurricular activities.
School Support of Parent Involvement
Schools must do their part to encourage parent involvement in education. Key activities include making parents feel welcome at school, involving parents in decision making, and implementing programs to provide information about parenting skills and community resources.