Of all the ingredients that go into the successful education of our children, parental involvement is the most important. A student can overcome almost any obstacle with in-depth parental involvement. Parental involvement is the essence of reaping what you sow. If a parent does not give anything up front, the parent does not get anything back and the child suffers.
Communities in Schools serves as a connection between home and school. Research suggests that two obstacles interfere with parental involvement:
• School activities to develop and maintain partnerships with families decline with each grade level and drop dramatically at the middle grades.
• Teachers often think that low-income and single parents will not or cannot spend as much time helping their children at home as do middle-class parents with more education and leisure time.
When parents come to school regularly, the idea that school and home are connected is reinforced for the child. The research also suggests that parents need specific information on how to help and what to do for their children.
Decades of research show that when parents are involved, students have:
• Higher grades, test scores and graduation rates;
• Better school attendance;
• Increased motivation and better self-esteem;
• Lower rates of suspension;
• Decreased use of drugs and alcohol; and
• Fewer instances of violent behavior.
Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status. The more intensely parents are involved, the more beneficial the achievement effect. With guidance and support, parents will become increasingly involved in home learning activities and find themselves with opportunities to teach, be models for and guide their children. Central Middle, Weis Middle and Ball High schools all sponsored parent involvement days this month.
National African American Parent Involvement Day is a national call to action to get African-American parents more involved in their children’s education. This national observance should open up dialogue among teachers, parents and students, which will lead to a more conducive learning environment for African-American students from kindergarten through college. One of the main purposes of National African American Parent Involvement Day was to eliminate students’ achievement gap by getting parents involved.
School-age children spend 70 percent of their waking hours outside of school. The earlier in a child’s educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects. The most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home. Eighty-six percent of the general public believes that support from parents is the most important way to improve the schools. Lack of parental involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools. If we could get more Galveston County parents involved, we would not have six schools receiving “improvement required” ratings from the Texas Education Agency.
Communities in Schools connects parents with schools by promoting parent involvement days in children’s education, promoting and providing strategies for parents and students to take full advantage of the educational process at all levels, and offering educational workshops, seminars and institutes relating to parental involvement and eliminating the achievement gap and socioeconomic gaps.
Parents who read to their children, have books available, take trips, guide TV watching and provide stimulating experiences contribute to student achievement.
Galveston area parents, please be involved with your children’s education. Communities in Schools of Galveston County invites you to join us in supporting your children.
Connie Hebert retired as the principal of Central Middle School in Galveston.