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The imperative of parental participation in education

  • Growing up, our parents were the first teachers in our lives. Some of us learned to read and write under the tutelage of our parents, and we also learned by watching our parents engage in social activities. But the roles of our parents in our education begins to change when we reach school age. They are still involved in our education, but their roles have now been reduced to helping with homework, attending PTA meetings, serving as volunteers for the kid’s school, participating in fundraisers, and so on. This has given rise to the question of how vital are parents to their children's education?

    Much has been said about the role of parents in the educational success of their children. Over the years, there have been arguments and counter-arguments over the effectiveness and worth of parental participation in the academic life of their kids, with many saying that parent involvement is an essential ingredient for the success of any child at school. Some others maintain that the impact of parental involvement might be exaggerated and may even be counterproductive. But according to a 2003 survey conducted by Public Agenda, two out of three teachers who participated in the survey said they believed students would have better academic performance if their parents participated more in their education. Also, in a 2003 survey carried out by Johnson & Duffet, 72 percent of surveyed parents say that children whose parents didn’t participate in their education were likely to have a hard time at school.

    One of the most significant issues with parental participation is the problem of measurement. If we say that parental involvement is important to the child's education, how do we measure the effect on the child's performance at school? The inability of experts to devise an effective mechanism for measuring parental participation is one of the stumbling blocks curtailing progress on the issue. If the effects of parental participation can be measured, it becomes easier to identify strategies that work and those that are ineffective.

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    According to Joyce Epstein of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at the John Hopkins University, parental involvement can be categorised into parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making, and community collaboration. But which of these categories contribute the most to the success of a child's education?

    According to the results of a national survey carried out by the National Center for Education Statistics in 2007, the leading form of parent participation in schools was attending school meetings or events, with school fundraising activities coming second. The survey also showed that parental participation was common among both white and African-American or Hispanic families, and is not affected by income.

    In 2002, the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory published a meta-analysis of 52 studies about the effects of parental participation on student learning. According to the SECL report, parental participation had a positive impact on the student’s academic performance.

    The researchers found that irrespective of the background or income, students whose parents participated in their learning have a higher chance of enrolling in post-secondary education, earn higher grades, earn credits and be promoted and they are usually punctual at school. The report continues that they also have improved social skills, adapt and perform better in school. The SEDL concludes that parental participation programs that work best involve families providing support for their children's academics at home.

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    The position of the SEDL has also been reiterated earlier in 1998 by Catasambis while reviewing the data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study. She also concluded that the most effective parental participation techniques involved parents supporting the learning process at home. She also found that families could improve the education of their children through consistent encouragement and setting of high educational expectations which spurs them to work harder.

    The bottom line is that teachers and parents should work together to develop the best methods through which parents can help their children. The fact remains that every parent wants their children to excel academically, even if this might not be apparent to the teacher and the school system.

    References

    Dervarics, C., and O'Brien E. (2011, August 30.) Back to school: How parent involvement affects student achievement. Retrieved January 10, 2018

    Hill, N., and Tyson D. (2009, November 25.) Parental Involvement in Middle School: A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Strategies that Promote Achievement. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web

    Luísa, F. (2016, November 27.) Back to school: Parenting and Parental Involvement in Secondary School: Focus Groups with Adolescents’ Parents. Retrieved January 10, 2018, from the Web

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