Dr. Rachell N. Anderson
Certain children get better grades, higher test scores, and have higher graduation rates. Also, these same children have better school attendance; are more motivated; feel better about themselves’ have less trouble at school with fewer suspension; less violent behavior and, less drug use. They get promoted, earn credits, adapt well to school, and go on to college or technical school at a higher rate.
Which group of kids are these? you ask. It could be yours.
These are kids whose parents are involved in their education. Lack of parents’ involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools today. You can make many kinds of excuses as to why you’re not doing your part; such as “I don’t have time to be running up to that School.” or “Teachers don't want parents interfering with their classes.” or “My kids don’t want me there.” But that’s not good enough. Excuses work only for those who give them. Your child’s future must take precedence over inconveniences.
I’m sure you’re heard about the number of failing schools in Mississippi. Next fall, thirty or more Mississippi schools could see their Teachers, Principle, Janitors and Cooks, fired because they have gotten an F rating for a third year in a row. Though some schools are exempt from this F status, all schools need Parents’ involvement to set challenging academic standards to make education better here and in the state.
It’s true, most parents don’t know how to help their children with their education. Some had so many difficulties with their own schooling, they don’t dare to voluntarily darken the door of a school house. Still, they conscientiously send their children off to school every day and expect them to do well without their regular input.
Most students want their parents to be more knowledgeable, more participatory and willing to take active roles in making a connection between home and school. And, research shows that the more parents participate in their children’s education; in a sustained way, at every level, the better their children do; and parents get better and more effective at it as they go along.
Parents may work with the school as volunteers, advocates, and boosters. They may participate in decision-making, fund raising, in field trips, and special projects. When parents come to school regularly, it reinforces to the child that school and home are connected and that school is an important part of the family's life.
However, research studies found that the most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home. For example, when schools encourage children to practice reading at home with parents, those children make significant gains in reading compared to those who only practice at school. Parents who have books available, who read to their children, limit TV watching, and provide stimulating experiences help their children to learn better.
When parents are involved in their children’s education they have the opportunity to interact with teachers, administrators, and other parents. They can learn first-hand about the daily activities and the social culture of the school, both help them understand what their child's life is like. Parents' active involvement with their child's education at home and in school brings great rewards and can have a significant impact on their children's lives now and in the future.
What’s a parent to Do?
1. Be kind to your children. This will help to maintain a warm and supportive home.
2. Provide time and a quiet place to study, assign responsibility for household chores, be firm about bedtime, and have dinner together as a family.
3. Encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members. That promotes sharing and critical thinking skills.
4. Let your kids catch you reading.
5. Set limits on screen time including TV, smart phones and video games; check-up on children when you’re not home; arrange for after-school activities and supervised care.
6. Show interest in children's progress at school. Help with homework. Discuss the value of a good education, and stay in touch with teachers and school staff.
7. Recognize and encourage your children’s talents, and tout them to friends and family.
8. Regularly interact with school personnel. They’ll keep you in the know and you’ll all learn from each other and make your child a better, more responsible and successful student.
Dr. Rachell Anderson is a licensed Clinical Psychologist, a Professor Emerita and author. She taught at the University of Illinois and ran a Private Clinical Practice in Springfield, Illinois for more than 40 years. She now lives and writes in Tunica, Mississippi. Check out her website at WWW.drrachellanderson.com for more articles and books.