Free Essay on Parental Involvement

Parental involvement in schools improves student learning. Parental involvement is a critical link to higher grades, positive attitudes and behaviors, and more effective schools. When schools works together with parents to support learning, children are inclined to succeed not just in school but also throughout life. Such participation of parents is critical throughout students’ educational careers. Parents benefit as well. They develop a greater appreciation of their role in their children’s education, improved their sense of self worth, and even stimulate the desire to continue their own education. They also come to understand more about their children’s teachers and their teaching methods. Finally, because of their ongoing relationships with students, schools play a key role in encouraging and supporting efforts by parents to take a more active role in their children’s education.

Few people will argue that parent involvement in education is significant. However, forty percent of parents believe they are not devoting enough time to their children’s education. First, parents must make a connection between home and school. At home, parents must be supportive of their children’s schools and the educational process. Your attitude about school will affect how your child feels. Parents must speak positively about their child’s teachers, counselors, and the benefits of education. To achieve academic success, parents can emphasize good work habits, set high but reasonable expectations for their children, stay informed about their children’s progress, and monitor their children’s activities.

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There are three factors over which parents can exercise their authority: student absenteeism, reading materials in the home, and excessive television watching. This accounts for nearly 90 percent of the difference in test scores. In other words, most of the differences in achievement can be attributed to home practices. This means that families can improve their children’s achievement in school by making sure their children attend school regularly, encouraging their children to read at home regularly, and turning off the TV. In addition, parents should use the home environment to foster good study skills, complete homework before play, and to offer praise for good work. Parents should not use this time to complete their children’s homework. Instead they should use community resources such as the library or church workshops where they may offer tutors or study aides.

At school, parents should make an effort to have regular communication with their children’s teachers. This will give the parent an opportunity to ask questions about their children. Additionally, parents can ask what they can do at home to help their children in school. Parents can also strengthen school ties by volunteering for school activities, attending conferences/open houses, and attending PTA meetings. Parents can also act as tutors to help students with problems. More importantly, parents should get involved in school to act as an advocate for their children. Moreover, schools are always seeking parent participation. Schools can increase parent involvement by setting up programs like workshops to help parents provide learning experiences at home, provide summer enrichment programs for parents and children, and by having parent involvement in the classroom. Schools seek parents to serve on advisory committees, sponsor certain school activities, and to help with fundraising. Teachers can have parents play a more active role in their children’s education by making sure that their first contact with them is a positive one. An example of a parental involvement program would be the one implemented by the San Benito School District in 1995. The district created its own office of parental involvement that runs workshops for parents every Friday. Though workshop topics may cover anything from children’s literature to diabetes prevention, the district always devoted several springtime sessions to giving parents strategies for helping their children prepare for the math, science, and writing sections of the TAAS. The district provided parents with transportation to all the workshops. In addition, every school has a parent center that served as a base for parent volunteers, as well as a place where parents can work on improving their English skills. Parent representatives were expected to spread the word to other parents. Through this regular instruction and two-way communication, district leaders have “sought to help parents understand what their children are going to be expected to learn, and then build the parents’ capacity to support that learning.” Over the course of five years, the district has increased the percentage of students who meet the minimum standards on the TAAS from 45.7 percent in 1994 to 79.2 percent in 1999. The State of Texas has also encouraged efforts to increase parents’ involvement statewide. It maintains a parental-involvement department within the Texas Education Agency that hosts an annual parental-involvement conference.

To increase the relationship between the students, parents and the community, we must reach out to the communities for resources to strengthen the bond. Business leaders can take an active part in school by serving as guest speakers, sponsoring events, allowing employees to attend school functions, and by having employees serve as mentors for students. Schools improve when a variety of adults share their talents and model successful strategies of life management. Moreover, when community and business organizations have a visible presence in classroom life, students are more likely to see a meaningful connection between their studies and their eventual success in the workplace.

Unfortunately, there are barriers that effect parental involvement with schools and the community. Limited-English and Non-English parents may have difficulty communicating with teachers. Also, parents who have had unsuccessful school experiences may feel uncomfortable interacting with teachers from their children’s school. In addition, many parents from a low socioeconomic status view their children’s education as the school’s responsibility. On the other hand, studies on teachers’ practices to promote parent involvement indicates that when teachers take clear, deliberate actions to involve parents, then the socioeconomic status and education level of parents disappear as factors in the willingness of parents to be involved. However, when teachers don’t actively work to involve parents, then those factors become important indicators for the level of parental involvement. In addition, when a parent is raising their children alone, time and financial limitations can make it difficult to be involved in school. Parent involvement in school declines when the school is larger, when their children get older, and when their children stop participating in extracurricular activities. Finally, many parents feel that they are not welcomed at school. Many parents and teachers have different philosophies on what functions parents should play in the school environment. For example, parents say that they are only comfortable acting as chaperones or volunteers in school activities, while teachers may feel that although this is helpful, this should not be the top priority for parents. When teachers were asked if they would approve or disapprove of parents at their school participating on a committee to propose changes to classroom teaching methods only 15% approved, while 85% would allow the parent/committee to propose changes to the lunch menu. Many times, teachers only see parents when they are being pressured for good grades for their children.

The most common form of parental involvement is the parent-teacher association. Their goal is to bring parents into school activities to help handle every kind of problem.

Their fundraising efforts allow schools to purchase classroom materials and equipment. PTA funds also provide educational opportunities, such as field trips and theatrical performances. However, parents use PTA meeting to empower them to have some say in the education of their children. Often, parents can be misguided in their attempts to influence school practices, often resorting to political power to bring about change in the school system.

In conclusion, every family functions as a home learning environment, regardless of its structure, economic level, ethnic or cultural background. Consequently, every family has the potential to support and improve the academic achievement of its children. As their children’s first and most important teachers, parents have opportunities to teach, to serve as role models, and to guide their children as they enter society. Teachers must ensure that parents have access to clear and readable information about their children’s school and classroom. Furthermore, parents must act as advocates for all children in school and society. In order for parent involvement programs to be successful, regular and meaningful communication must occur between home and school. The key to getting parents to participate in school events isn’t convincing them to do something they don’t want to do; it’s providing them with something they do want to do. Each individual parent has a different driving force that will motivate him or her to participate.

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