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Post extensive research and intense efforts to improve and increase the involvement of parents in the classroom activities, the results are proving to be good news for schools and parents. The benefits of such a parental partnership with schools are immense not just for the school but for the children too. Kids need to perceive school as a place where their efforts succeed. This will increase when they know that their parents and school are working in tandem with each other to put things in place. Successful parent involvement in children’s education and schools has shown to have a positive impact on grades, test scores, behavior at home and school, social skills and adaptation, and attendance. Even with proven benefits, surveys have also seen that teachers and principals are struggling to get parents more involved in school activities. The same goes for parents too. With busy lifestyles and hectic schedules, parents are finding it really hard to involve themselves in school plans and programs.
What Is Meant by Parental Involvement at School?
What do these studies and research mean by parent involvement at school? Parental involvement can be aptly described as the active and ongoing participation of a parent or primary caregiver in the education process of their child. There are several ways in which parents can contribute at home- reading with children, monitoring homework, and discussing school day and events. At school, parents could contribute by volunteering in classrooms, attending parent-teacher meetings, helping with organizing functions. Parental involvement and academic achievement are directly proportional to each other. Schools with enthusiastic parents involve, engage, and communicate with them which incorporates them in the learning process. This has a positive impact on the academic and overall achievement levels of the child.
What Are the Benefits of Parental Engagement in School?
Several parents and school are devising new ways to enhance ways of building parent engagement in schools. Below are the critical aspects that are impacted positively when parents are involved in school activities.
1. Increased academic achievement
The more intensely parents are involved, the higher is the impact on the academic achievement of children.
2. Improved classroom behavior
Showing interest and encouragement in a child’s education by parents can have a positive impact on the child’s attitude towards school, classroom conduct, motivation levels, self-esteem, and absenteeism.
3. The overall impact on a child’s personality
Parents’ involvement should not be restricted to just the primary years in school. In fact, parents who show more involvement in the secondary years of education tend to have children who are less inclined to drop out of school and have clear goals for the future.
4. Progress in disadvantaged children
Parents of disadvantaged children, minority or low-income group children do not usually get involved due to a lack of information and training. With adequate support and training from the school, such parents could get a chance to be involved and help in improving the performance of their children and contribute positively to the school.
5. Encourages children to be more involved in many activities
Parents who tend to read with kids eventually nurture children with a profound reading habit which helps lifelong. Not just reading but involvement in several other activities like homework, projects, and assignments could help in getting children more involved and interested.
6. Improved teacher morale
Teachers who receive more support from parents benefit from their involvement and can make a positive contribution towards focusing on the child’s interests and abilities. With better communication, teachers communicate with children and it also helps to dispel any wrong perceptions.
7. Improved the quality of education
Parents tend to have more access and understanding of the system and the procedures. This has a direct impact on the quality of education imparted as there is an exchange of ideas and techniques to fine-tune aspects.
8. Opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns
Parent involvement in schools is a platform to question any practices and voice concerns that need to be addressed. You can be more confident about raising any issues and concerns you may have. This could result in a mutually beneficial dialogue platform for both the school and parents.
How Can Parents Involve Themselves in Their Child’s School?
Parents need to determine the time they can devote and find something that fits into their schedule. A few ways to inspire you:
1. Become a class parent-helper
Assist the teacher in class for projects, parties, and other events. At the elementary level, an extra pair of hands is always appreciated. You could also help in the main office.
2. Organize an after-school club
Parents who work full-time need additional support for their children especially with homework. You can organize one at the school or a community center.
3. Help with extra-curricular activities
Extra-curricular activities like dance, drama, singing go a long way in enriching educational experience for children. Teachers lack the time for making this investment. You could run a program or be a chaperone to one.
4. Reading buddies
Many teachers need help to get elementary level children to practice guided reading. You could be a reading buddy and develop fluency and reading skills.
5. Get involved in decision and policymaking
You could be part of the team of governors, board, teachers, senior management that undertake crucial decisions for the school. Many schools like to see parents as part of the advisory committee and it is a rewarding experience.
6. Help with newsletters and outreach materials
You could provide inputs for the newsletter and other communication methods( via social media) if you have no time for visits.
7. Offer counseling services
Graduating classes and secondary schools are in constant need of people who can communicate with children on various issues. From planning proms, offering career advice, counseling children to fundraising projects there is a lot to do.
8. Join the Parent-Teacher Association
The starting point to get involved anything remotely associated with the school. Apart from staying abreast about events, it offers support to parents too.
9. Participate in school fairs, fundraising events
Schools are part of several community programs and need volunteers to help them. Help with organizing school fairs and other events.
10. Share your expertise
If you have a hobby or passion that you pursue, try to share it with the teacher. You could have a standalone presentation or demonstration to encourage kids to pursue it too.
11. Start a book club
Get the children and parents of your child’s class together with the help of a book they are reading. Start online discussions, debates, and other activities to get children and parents involved.
12. Bring your neighborhood closer
If you live in a neighborhood where the children seem to attend the same school, try to organize a party or barbecue. It will be a great platform to discuss any issues concerning kids or schools. It will prove to be a great place where you can brainstorm ideas and present it to the school. Such gatherings also prove to be great ways to discuss other issues such as child care, drop-offs to school, carpooling, etc.
13. Attend open-house at school
Attending the open house at school introduces you to the environment your child is going to be exposed for the rest of the academic year. This will help to get acquainted with the curriculum and expectations for your child.
14. Be in constant touch with the school and staff at school
As a parent, it is important to be in constant touch with the teacher and other staff at school. Make sure the teacher is aware of any issues at home. Anything that you believe would impact the child must be known to the school.
15. Organize or set up a program
If your school does not have a program to involve parents, then reach out to other parents and approach the school to organize one. Pioneer it as a cause and seek help from everyone to get it functioning.
Obstacles That Can Come in the Way of Successful Parent Involvement
There is always a difference in perception about parental involvement. Teachers perceive that parents do not want to be involved and parents, on the other hand, don’t know how to get involved. There is a strong disconnect that exists because of various reasons. Lack of time, communication barriers, the experience of parents with their own schooling, the inability of the school to reach out to the parents, and much more. More often than not these reasons become the key factor for children “slipping through the cracks”. The survey believes that a lack of knowledge of spoken English also deters parents from being involved. A supportive and positive school culture will boost academic achievement and reduce a lot of surrounding problems. Schools must educate teachers and other personnel about reaching out to parents to work equally. Schools must also offer parents resources and materials to work with their children. Schools must also assist parents to understand the academic standards, child’s progress, and collaborating with teachers to improve standards and achievements. Parental involvement is crucial to foster this culture.
Till What Extent Should Parental Involvement Be Made?
Most parent involvement programs develop as a response to a specific issue or need that arises in the school or community. Parent involvement programs cannot be bespoke or a “one size fits all” prototype. What works for one school may not work for another. Teachers are often not very forthcoming in involving parents in hiring processes, planning curriculum, and choosing books due to lack of expertise. In a nutshell, the successful parent-school partnership must not be for addressing one particular issue or an add-on program. Most parent-school partnership and involvement programs must be aligned with the vision and mission of the school. Programs must be developed collaboratively with parents and must reflect the needs, interests, and issues of the school, parents, and children. From offering child care, clubs and other multiple opportunities schools can show their genuine interest in receiving parent input. Parental involvement fund must be made transparent to parents. Parental involvement is a journey that cannot be bought but has to be nurtured and cultivated over time with care, trust, and patience.
Schools can become successful in engaging parents by making a slow start to expanding definitions of involvement. It is not just about increasing numbers but about the quality and kind of involvement that is bought to the table. It is more about believing that the success of students is a common interest for both school and family. Schools must envision parents as partners in the functioning and learning process. This will go a long way in identifying concrete ways in which the partnership can be cultivated and used for mutual benefit. Kids need to know that they are not making their life journeys alone and a successful school-parent partnership is a foundation for this.