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When parents are involved in their children’s education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school—and the schools they go to are better.
—A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement. A.T. Henderson and N. Berla. Washington, D.C.: National Committee for Citizens in Education.
Parents want and need information about what’s happening in their child’s classroom and how they can help. The information and resources presented here can help meet that need.
Some parents and families are able to be involved in many ways. Others may only have time for one or two activities. Whatever your level of involvement, do it consistently and stick with it because you will make an important difference in your child’s life.
Involvement can mean:
- Reading to your child
- Checking homework every night
- Discussing your children's progress with teachers
- Voting in school board elections
- Helping your school to set challenging academic standards
- Limiting TV viewing on school nights
- Becoming an advocate for better education in your community and state.
- Or, it can be as simple as asking your children, "How was school today?" But ask every day. That will send your children the clear message that their schoolwork is important to you and you expect them to learn. Here are just some of the reasons it is important for parents to be actively involved:
- The family makes critical contributions to student achievement from pre-school through high school. A home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than income, education level or cultural background. (Henderson and Berla)
- In 1994, the College Board found that reading achievement is more dependent on learning activities in the home than is math or science. Reading aloud to children is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading success.
- When parents are involved at school as well as at home, children do better and stay in school longer. (Henderson and Berla)
- When children and parents talk regularly about school, children perform better academically. (Aston & McLanahan, 1991; Ho & Willms, 1996; Finn, 1993)
- Three kinds of parental involvement at home are consistently associated with higher student achievement: actively organizing and monitoring a child’s time, helping with homework and discussing school matters. (Finn, 1998)
- Parents who read to their children before they enter school give their children a boost toward reading success. Talking to children about books and stories read to them also supports reading achievement. (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. 1996. Developing Engaged Readers in School and Home Communities. Rahway, N.J.: Author.)
- The earlier that parent involvement begins in a child’s educational process, the more powerful the effects. (Kathleen Cotton and Karen Reed Wikelund. “Parent Involvement in Education,” Research You Can Use. NW Regional Educational Laboratory.)
- Positive results of parental involvement in their children’s schooling include improved achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored confidence among parents in their children’s schooling. (Institute for Responsive Education. The Home-School Connection: Selected Partnership Programs in Large Cities. Boston: Author.)
The World Wide Web offers an abundance of resources to help parents help their children. Some of the best are available from both the National Education Association and other sources. Go to www.nea.org for more information.