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There are many reasons that parents should get involved in their children’s school. Students who have concerned and involved parents tend to get better grades. When a parent asks questions about homework and assignments, supervises to make sure that they get done, and even helps with homework, it is more likely that assignments will be completed and handed in on time. Another factor in grades is attendance. With a low attendance rate, assignments will be missed, and the student will get behind in content as well. Parents who do not get involved in the school might not know that their child is not attending on a regular basis, or even care if their child goes. When children are first starting school, or transitioning from pre-school to elementary school or elementary to middle school, the transition is easier when parents are involved. If a child is unhappy about being in school, but their parents volunteer in the school, the child will see their parents there and be less upset because they will not be separated from them. For whatever reason, if a child is nervous or simply misses his or her parent, seeing the familiar face in the hallway or just knowing that they are in the building is comforting and makes the transition into school easier.
Along with parents helping with homework and supervising that projects are completed, giving support to a child will make them more likely to pass from grade to grade. Without parent involvement, unless a child is self-motivated to go to school and do their work, it will be difficult to pass to the next grade level, and in time, graduate. When students see that their parents are involved in their school, it shows them that their parents care about their education. This sets a good example for the student, and they are likely to model their parents and believe that education is important and beneficial. This is especially true when students see their parents volunteering in their school. In order for a child to see their education as something important, they have to believe that their parents feel the same, especially at a young age. Reasons Parents Don’t Get Involved.
Sometimes parents do not get involved in their child’s education for a completely different reason than not caring. Parents of low-income and minority families have a tendency to be less involved or not involved at all. In the case of minority parents, they may speak a language other than English and it may be hard to communicate with the teacher. This is a big reason why schools should provide multi-lingual assistance so minority families can be just as involved as anyone else. The language barrier also makes it difficult to help children with homework or projects, because even if the child can translate for them, they may not know or understand the content. Another aspect of minority families is their culture. Different cultures have different ways of schooling, so the way things are done in America may seem odd to minority families.
Low-income or single parents may not be involved in their child’s school because they have bigger problems on their mind and it may not occur to them to ask their son or daughter about their day at school. This may make it hard for a child to succeed anyway, and these are the kids that need their parents to be involved the most. Children model their parents, and when a parent is noticeably worrying about where the families’ next meal is coming from, the child will pick up on that and spend less time worrying about schoolwork and more about their situation at home.
Another reason for parents not to get involved at school is because they do not feel welcome. Research has found that in middle school especially, parents who were once involved tend to hang back (http://pta.org). When a child is in elementary school, the parents are used to one or a few teachers and faculty knowing their child very well. In middle school, the child has a teacher for each different subject, and the parents may find it hard to get to know each teacher, or frustrating that a teacher might not recognize their child’s needs because they aren’t with them all day. On any grade level, however, if parents do not feel welcome in the school, the chances of them volunteering or becoming involved are much smaller. They may still take an active role in the home, making sure homework is completed and things of that nature, but they are much less likely to take part in anything with the school itself.
As children get older, parents sometimes feel like they should be independent enough to handle their schoolwork and attendance on their own. Some kids may feel embarrassed to have their parents volunteer in the school, so as kids get older, the lower the rate of parent participation drops. When they were younger, it may have been fun or a privilege to see parents in their school, but once they get to high school, or sometimes middle school, some kids feel like their parents are spying on them or are making them look “un-cool” to their peers. Other than parents feeling that their child should be able to take on the responsibility of doing their homework on their own, there is the possibility that parents may no longer know the subject matter, so they do not offer assistance with homework. When a student in high school reaches a level in math or science that surpasses their parents’ knowledge, the parents cannot be of any help and the student may no longer complete all of their assignments.
How to Get Involved
Some parents simply are not sure how they can get involved. There are many ways to do this, both in the school itself and in the home. At home, parents should always ask questions, such as, “how was your day?” and “what did you learn in school?” These questions provide insight for the parent and open the doors of communication between the parent and child. Other examples of things parents can do with their children at home include reading with them and coloring with them. These activities should be part of the daily routine, because parents are the first teachers. They can read to the child, and when the child learns to read on their own, the child can read to them. Activities like these should never be pushed aside because children always need reinforcement of what they are doing in school, and they need to see it in their home.
Parents can also find ways to get involved that put them in the school and get them talking to teachers and administrators. Parents should always make an effort to meet their child’s teachers and principal, and any other authority figures in the school that their child interacts with. Regular parent-teacher conferences should be scheduled. For these conferences, parents should come prepared with specific questions. This is one of the easiest ways for parents to monitor their child’s behavior and progress in school. In the case of minority families who need information in other languages, they should request it on their own if it is not already available. The community is another way for parents to get involved. Parents should form social networks with other parents at the school and in their child’s classes. For starters, a larger group will make a bigger difference in the quality of the school, and if they would like a change to be made, it is easier to accomplish when more people are backing it.
Also, parents are more likely to get involved when they see other parents doing it. Other parents are a very good communication tool, but also can be a source of invalid information sometimes. Cases like that require the judgment of the parents involved to decide on their own what they believe is best for their own child. How Teachers Can Help The parents are not the only people with a responsibility to be involved with the school. The school has an equal responsibility to get the families involved. They can do this in many ways. Teachers should communicate with parents about everything that is taking place in their classroom. When there are problems, the teacher has to communicate these to the parents, but in a way that is going to make the parents feel like they can work together to solve them. If the parent feels like their child is being attacked, they will go on the defensive, and the teacher-family relationship will be difficult to form. Teachers have to remember to communicate the positive things as well as the negative. Parents will feel more welcome in the school system if they are receiving calls or notes home with their child telling them of an accomplishment their child made or something positive that happened that day. It is also important for teachers to let parents know about changes being made to programs or special activities planned. This is another way to get parents involved, because teachers can ask for parent volunteers for special activities such as field trips and class parties.
The teacher could also extend an invitation for parents to watch plays and ceremonies, or to join a class party. Another idea would be for the teacher to offer extra credit for events like Take Your Child to Work Day or Grandparents Day, where the children can bring their grandparents in to the classroom, or Career Day, where parents could come in and talk about their job. Teachers can see the progress and struggles that a child goes through on a daily basis in the classroom. Based on this, they can provide supplemental materials for the parents to work on with them at home. They can suggest activities to build or reinforce skills, because, again, the parent is the first teacher. When concepts and activities carry over from school to home, the child will retain them longer and gain a better understanding of them.
While parents may know their child best, they do not always recognize their weaknesses. Sometimes a parent is biased and may not really know what is best for their child. Teachers and parents both need to realize this and work together to create the learning environment that will be best for the child. For example, the parents may not think that their child has any trouble reading because at home they read to the child and the child seems to be able to read as well. In school, the child may not be reading very well. This could be caused by any number of things, including the level of the books being read, whether or not the child is reading out loud at home (they could be pretending if the parents think they are reading in their head), or even a problem with vision. This is why parents and teachers need to work together to gain a better understanding of the problem and work together to solve it.
Technology to Help Parent Involvement
Technology is a simple way to enhance communication between parents and teachers. Voice mail makes it easy to make sure messages are being given to the other party. If a note is being sent home or to school with the child, there is a chance that it will not get to the person it is supposed to. If a phone call cannot reach the parent or teacher right away, voice mail is almost a guarantee that the message will still be relayed as long as the person listens to their messages. This takes the responsibility off of the child and places it on the teacher and parent.
The internet is also a very useful tool in parent/teacher communication. A school webpage can list upcoming events, teacher e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and any other useful information. Parents could easily locate any information they needed this way, and this also puts the responsibility on the parent. A child can be forgetful and not give papers and things to parents when they get home at the end of the school day, and even if they do, parents could lose them. A website makes the information ready and available at any time. Teachers could have their own personal websites as well, with grades and assignments listed. E-mail is another way for teachers and parents to contact one another. It is a fast, easy way of communication.
Conclusion Parents are a crucial part of their child’s education. Their support will help their child succeed at any level of the educational process. Children need to know that their parents view education as important, so that they will as well. The school is equally responsible for making sure parents are involved in children’s education. The aim of most parents and teachers is to make the learning process and enjoyable and beneficial one for the student, and for the student to get as much out of school as they can. To do this, they must work together and form relationships that will work to help children succeed.
References Books Burns, R. C., & McClure, R. M. (2012). Parents and schools: From visitors to partners. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association.
This book discusses communication as a key aspect of parent involvement in schools and how technology can greatly help communication between parents and teachers. Also, the parent is the first teacher. A project called “Family Connections” tries to unite the teachers and parents.
Comer, J. P. (2010). Building successful partnerships: A guide for developing parent and family involvement programs. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service. This book is part of the National Parent/Teacher Association’s efforts to get parents involved in schools. There are six standards, including communicating, parenting, student learning, volunteering, school decision making, and collaborating with the community. Surveys are also included, along with worksheets for evaluating home, school, and community partnerships.
McCaleb, S. P. (2004). Building communities of learners: A collaboration among teachers, students, families, and community. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
There are sections on: programs to get communities and families involved in education, research of a multilingual first grade classroom setting with multicultural parents, the role of the teacher in getting parents involved, trends in parent involvement in education, and suggestions for teachers.
Journal Articles Hite, S.J., & Young, J. (2004). The status of teacher preservice preparation for parent involvement: A national study. Education, 115(1), 153-161. Retrieved April 11, 2004 from Academic Search/EBSCO database.
A national study supporting parental involvement in schools that proves the positive affects parent involvement has on the students.
L., E.C. (2003). Parents – A new keyword in education. Teacher’s College Record, 94(4), 677-68. Retrieved February 19, 2004 from Academic Search/EBSCO database.
This article described two theories: “parent-as-savior” and “family-is-school.” It gives both positive and negative points about parental involvement. The author also says that home is the primary place of education, so parents should do certain things like reading and coloring with their child. Lecklider, D., McClintock, P. J, Shepard, R. G., Trimberger, A. K.(1999). Empowering family-school partnerships: An integrated hierarchical model. Contemporary Education, 70(3), 33-38. Retrieved April 13, 2004 from Academic Search/EBSCO database.
Discusses obstacles such as defining what the term parental involvement really means, and how confusion over this may lead to less involvement. Presents a hierarchal model for family-school partnerships. Politis, C. (2004). When parents won’t get involved. Early Childhood Today, 18(4), 10. Retrieved April 11, 2004 from Academic Search/EBSCO database. Gives reasons parents may not get involved with their child’s school.
Sheldon, S. (March 2002). Parents social networks and beliefs as predictors of parent involvement. Elementary School Journal, 102(4), 301-317. Retrieved February 26, 2004 from Academic Search/EBSCO database.
Gave reasons why some parents may not be as involved in their child’s school as they should be. Some parents have expressed not feeling welcome in their child’s school, and this should never be the case. Building social networks can help to overcome this, and the article tells how. No author given. (2003) Be strategic to boost family involvement. District Administration, 39(12), 44. Retrieved April 9, 2004 from Academic Search/EBSCO Database.
Lists suggestions to get parents involved with their child’s education. Internet Resources Skinner, R. ( January 6, 2004 ). Parental involvement. Education Week. Retrieved February 13, 2004 from Education Week Online.
Discussed different ways that parents can get involved in their child’s education, and ways the school can help to get parents involved; stated that there is less parental involvement in schools with a large number of minorities and as children get older, parental involvement diminishes. National Education Association. (2004). Retrieved April 30, 2004 from http://www.nea.org/parents/.Defines parent involvement, explains why it is important, and gives links to research that proves how important and influential parent involvement is.
The national coalition for parent involvement in education. (2004). Retrieved on April 6, 2004 from http://www.ncpie.org/This website includes suggestions for parents and schools, and discusses why parent involvement is so important. Community services can also be helpful in creating relationships between parents and schools. The national pta. (2004). Retrieved on April 15, 2004 from http://pta.orgThere are tips on how parents can become better involved in the classroom, as well as reasons why parent involvement is so important. Educational Dictionary EBSCOhost Thesaurus. (2004). Retrieved on May 1, 2004 from ERIC Databases. Thesaurus in the ERIC Database that gives different ways to word a topic, so more articles can be found.
Newspaper Article Cromer, Katherine. (February 24, 2004). OB parents’ involvement hailed. The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved on February 25, 2004 from Lexis-Nexis Database.
A newspaper article about parents being in the school volunteering and the positive effects it has had. Children are happy to see their parents at school and this lessens the amount of work that teachers and administrators have to do to try to get parents involved. The parents actually being in the school also gives off the impression to the students that their parents find education important, so they strive to do well.
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