Parents and families are the key to student success. Research shows that students tend to perform better academically if they have involved parents and families in their schools. Many schools define parent involvement as a family member that consistently participates in school events, volunteers in the classroom, and attends parent teacher meetings.
For many families, this level of parent involvement is impossible. A number of these families’ work schedules, limited access to transportation, and limited English language skills prevent them from fully participating in school events.
If this is the case for a majority of parents, schools should consider redefining parent involvement. This notion that parents are only “involved” when they actively participate in school sponsored activities is preposterous.
There are many “home-based” parents who engage and support their child academically, but do not attend school events. Home-based families are just as supportive as active parents (who take part in onsite school activities). Like active parents, home-based family members “encourage their children and are sympathetic, reassuring, and understanding. They show a high level of commitment to their children and their education.”
It’s important that schools do not turn their back on parents that are “non-school joiners”. For these parents, several kinds of approaches hold promise. Simple take home activities to engage with their child’s homework have proven to be successful. Home visits are another important strategy that increases parent involvement. These visits can help school staff gets to know their parents as individuals in a non threatening environment. Educators can learn how their families monitor their child’s academic progress during out-of-school time.
It is important for all of us to remember that parent involvement is about family members’ commitment to support their child’s education… not about how many events they attended in a school year.
- Child Trends. (2013). Parental involvement in schools. Available at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=parental-involvement-in-schools#sthash.J04CB81u.dpuf
- ASCD (1992). Rethinking parent involvement. Available at: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept92/vol50/num01/Rethinking-Parent-Involvement.aspx