“Parents often begin their participation doubting that their involvement can make much difference, and they are generally very gratified to discover what an important contribution they are able to make.”—Parent Involvement in Education (PIE)
Parents don’t need to be head of the PTA to get involved in their students’ schooling. Something as simple as asking how the day went, and digging for more information when their child’s response is “It was fine,” counts as getting more involved.
However, it is important to note that playing an active role does lead to more benefits than passive involvement. For example, “reading with children, supporting their work on homework assignments, or tutoring them using materials and instructions provided by teachers,” according to PIE.
Parents may be thinking: my kids don’t care if I’m involved or not. While that may be true, they don’t know that their future is dependent on it. Here are some of the most notable and powerful reasons for parents to be more involved.
Most teachers know that in-class reading time comes at a premium, between test prep and Common Core integration. That means most reading has to be done at home. Luckily, this is actually more beneficial than reading in class. In 1994, The College Board found that achievements in reading are more dependent on learning activities at home, than achievements in math or science.
School attendance is an important marker for student success. Students who miss in-school instructional time increase their chances of doing poorly on homework and exams, now and in the future, reported by Teachers College Record. It’s also evident that students tend to have more behavioral issues the more they miss class.
Increased parental involvement can improve attitude and behavior, including self-efficacy, classroom behavior, personal expectations, motivation and dedication to completing homework. All of these behaviors and attitudes are critical to succeeding not just in school but in life as well.
The benefits of parent involvement are many, but schools that actually see parents getting involved are very few. In fact, a Public Agenda study of parents with children in public schools across the country found:
While this involvement doesn’t need to land on the school, teachers and administrators can do a number of very simple things to encourage parent involvement. Here are two ways to help:
Don’t just ask parents to be more involved. Instead, consider specific ways they can work with their kids. For example, teachers could create assignments that require students to interact with their parents to complete it, like career interviews or family history projects.
Administrators can ask parents to get involved with one or two specific aspects of a school event, which has been shown to increase the likelihood that they will say yes.
In recent years, technology has made it easier for parents to be more involved. However, with the multitude of tools available, it’s hard to know which ones are best. Here are a few recommended tools to improve parental involvement.
This online reading log makes it easy for parents to be involved. After the teacher sets up their class, parents receive an email with their child’s login information, and are prompted to help them create an account. Parents are then sent a weekly report on their child’s reading, making it easier than ever to be involved and up to date. Whooo’s Reading is free for teachers; learn more about it here.
FreshGrade is a free tool that provides parents real-time access to view and comment on their child’s progress in the classroom. Rich media is used to capture and document student learning, all of which is housed within secure digital portfolios for each student. A limitless variety of learning can be captured: from videos of presentations, audio clips of reading samples to photos of labs or student self-documentations. Parents can be sent push notifications of updates or log-in to see their child’s learning as it happens and be far more empowered to provide support and be involved.
Parental involvement is one of the most important factors in student success, and both parents and teachers can work to improve and increase this involvement. See how your efforts (parents and teachers) can make a difference in the lives of the children you love the most.
Bio: Jessica Sanders is the Director of Social Outreach for Learn2Earn. She grew up reading books like The Giver and Holes, and is passionate about making reading as exciting for young kids today as it has always been for her. Follow Learn2Earn on Twitter and Facebook, and send content inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.