Family Magazine

When You Are Involved in Your Child’s Education

By Jean Campbell

In an article appearing in the NYU Child Study Center newsletter,  Anita Gurian, Ph.D, speaks to the importance of parents being involved in their children’s education and beginning that involvement in the elementary school years.

Dr Gurian cites research studies, which demonstrate the children of involved parents:

  • are absent less frequently
  • behave better
  • do better academically from pre-school through high school
  • go farther in school
  • go to better schools

She goes on to say that additional research also shows that a home environment that encourages learning is even more important than parents’ income, education level, or cultural background. By actively being involved in their child’s education at home and in school, parents send some critical messages to their child; they’re demonstrating their interest in his/her activities and reinforcing the idea that school is important.

In today’s world where both parents need to work, carving out time, even a brief amount of time for being involved in their child’s education is a challenge. If parents can manage to do so, it will be time that generates rewards for both parents and children.

The National Education Association ( NEA) recommends the following ways to be involved with your child’s education at home:

  • Read to your child — reading aloud is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading success

  • Discuss the books and stories you read to your child
  • Help your child organize his/her time
  • Limit television viewing on school nights
  • Talk to your child regularly about what’s going on in school
  • Check homework every night

The NEA suggests the following ways to get involved in your child’s school”

  • Meet with a teacher or other school staff member to determine where, when and how help is needed and where your interests fit in.
  • Parents can:
    • Be classroom helpers
    • Tutor or read with individual children
    • Assist children with special needs
    • Help in special labs, such as computer or science
    • Plan and work in fundraising
    • Plan and accompany classes on field trips
    • Assist coaches at sporting events
    • Help out with arts and crafts workshops
    • Assist with a special interest club or drama group
    • Speak to classes about your career or special expertise
    • Help write press releases or local news articles
    • Work as a library assistant; help with story time
    • Vote in school board elections – know what the candidates stand for
    • Participate in parent-teacher associations and school decisions
    • Help your school set challenging academic standards
    • Become an advocate for better education in your community and state.

Dr. Gurian stresses that when parents contribute effort and time, 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 of which help them understand what their child’s life is like.

The child and the school both benefit, and parents serve as role models as they demonstrate the importance of community participation. In addition to improving academic progress, parental involvement pays off in other significant ways. Numerous studies have shown that parents’ involvement is a protective factor against adolescent tobacco use, depression, eating disorders, academic struggles, and other problems.

By staying involved parents can be a source of support, create a climate for discussing tough issues and serve as role models for responsible and empathic behavior.


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