Thursday, July 27, 2006

Parent involvment gets results

Involved parents increase chances for student success

All parents want their children to succeed in school. Research reveals that children whose parents are involved in their kids' education are more likely to succeed. But for many parents, it is hard to know how or when to start.

Today's parents work long hours, extra jobs and must handle a host of other responsibilities. Resources such as Parent Information Resource Centers (PIRCs) offer assistance in many states. Many community centers also provide help. By all means, do not overlook your child's school, which can provide a wealth of information.

Education starts at home. Kids spend most of their waking hours outside of school. Rose Jackson-Beavers, an author and director of parent services for the Parent Engagement and Empowerment Center in St. Louis, believes that even busy parents can take an active role in their child's education. According to Jackson-Beavers, the benefits of ongoing parent involvement are substantial.

"A parent's opportunity to get involved in their child's education doesn't end the moment that child walks into the classroom," said Jackson-Beavers. "Studies show that children with involved parents have more positive learning experiences. This translates into better academic performance, higher grades and test scores. I know our parents can make this happen with a little help."

Here are tips on how busy parents can work smart:

- Send your child to school well-fed and rested.
- Stay on top of homework.

- Attend open house or back-to-school night at your child's school. It's the perfect time to meet your child's teacher. If you have to work, schedule a meeting with the teacher at another time.
- Go to parent-teacher conferences.
- Each day, ask your children what they are learning at school. Discuss it with them or have them explain it.

- Set high expectations for your children. Encourage them to do their best.
- Get involved in your school's parent-teacher organization, and find out other ways you can support your child's school.

St. Louis parents offer their own advice on best practices. Kimberly Brandon is the mother of a middle school student. She also taught elementary school for 22 years in a suburban school district. Family friends notice that Brandon and her daughter, Margaret, always work together as a team. They even tackle homework at the hair salon!

"I learned right away to be the best teacher you could be for your child at home," said Brandon. "Don't ever stop working with your child. Anytime my daughter has homework, I am involved in it." Brandon emphasizes that the effort comes with rewards. Margaret now carries a 4.0 grade point average.

Another St. Louis mom, Leslie Smith, encourages parents to establish ongoing communication with their children. Kids will talk to me before they will talk to their mom or dad," Smith stated. "They are afraid to talk to their parents." Smith says it is important that parents listen to their kids.

Debbie Crump has the experience of being a mother, a grandmother, and a foster mom. She says that when she was raising her own children, her job made it difficult for her to be active in school.

Nevertheless, Crump emphasizes, "You definitely need to develop a relationship with the teacher. Let the teacher know that you really care about your child's education."
Crump, who is proud of her adult kids, now raises two foster children.

Bottom line: When parents are involved in their children's education, kids do better in school.

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Dennis Fermoyle said...

Welcome back, DCS! Where ya been?? I've missed you!

Regarding parents and schools, I recently read The Myth of Laziness by Dr. Mel Levine, and he says something that I really like: It is the school's job to teach children how to learn, and it's the parents' job to teach them how to work.

DCS said...

Dennis: I still have a faithful reader after all. :-) I was away because of a series of family and professional commitments, but things are starting to get back to normal now. Thank you for stopping by.

As for Dr. Levine's thoughts on education, I agree 100%. I also think that more parents need to realize that they are their children's first teachers.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Rose said...

Welcome DCS...great post... parents have to be aware of their roles and responsibilities. It will take education and awareness to do this.

Michael Misovec said...

Check out for more PIRC resources

Stuart Montaldo said...

In my experience, it’s both the big things and the little things that make a difference, many of which Deb mentioned. For instance, I especially agree about your point, which is highly underrated in my opinion, about keeping the kids well fed and well rested.

One little thing we’ve done since our kids were in Kindergarten is to play “Stump Mommie” or “Stump Daddy” around the dinner table. Each child tries to ask something of one of us that they learned that day in school. If it’s something they know and we don’t, they win! They love the game, and it’s a fun way to counteract the usual “Nothing” answer to “What did you do at school today?”

Thanks for all your expertise and ideas!

Deb Sistrunk said...

Stuart: How cool of you to stop by! I love the ways you have engaged your own kids. What great ideas!

I am seriously thinking of starting to post again on this site. Stop by in another week or so and you might find a new post or two. I will continue to post education stories of general interest at Media by Sistrunk. But I have ideas for for more in-depth articles that probably would be more appropriate here.

If you have any ideas for posts, please feel free to share them.

Thanks for making my day!

Jude said...

As an overly involved parent, parent involvement is an important topic to me. I'll be working in a high school this year as the librarian. One thought I've had was to create a general wish list area for the school website. Part of that wish list could include a call for parent volunteers. As a PTA vice-president at the middle school level, essentially the four officers are the only ones who show up at meetings and we do all the work. It was slightly better than that at the elementary level. I'll have a son in high school this year. I've always dropped out of PTA by high school because the emphasis at high school is on sports, which I care nothing about it. But this next year, I'm going to try to attend "booster club" meetings where I might be the lone voice advocating for the arts--band, choir, and drama.

I do think that at all levels, if parents knew more concrete ways to be involved, involvement would increase. That's why the wish lists might help.