The parent’s role in the education of their child starts when their child is born and carries on throughout their childhood and even into adult life. The parent is the first teacher a child ever has.
From the time between being a newborn and a toddler, the child becomes more aware of their bodies and their capabilities. They explore the world around them, learn to walk and talk and all the while they look for their parent’s guidance and feedback to support them.
But when the child hits school age, much of their learning becomes taken over by the school. This is so that the child can have an educational standard set by a curriculum to gear them for their advancement through the stages of their life.
This doesn’t mean that the parent’s role in their child’s development ends, as the child looks to you as a role model on how to behave. You have a great influence on their perspective in life and so it is up to you to ensure your child has a positive outlook towards their education by being immersed and involved in your child’s success.
What Is Parental Involvement?
Parental involvement is composed of two key elements: the encouragement and facilitation of the child’s education by the parent and also the participation and active engagement of the parent. This combination of commitment and participation by the parent is what is known as parental involvement.
This often means that the parents approach their child’s education as if it was their own. After all, as parents, we do want our children to be the best they can be and achieve as much as they can in life.
Does Parental Involvement Improve Grades and Increase School Performance?
There have been many studies with conclusive results that imply that parents who are consistently involved in their kid’s education see far greater academic success.
Alyssa R. Gonzalez-DeHass et al states in their study: “Examining the Relationship Between Parental Involvement and Student Motivation” that a child who sees their parents take an active approach to their education are much more motivated to participate in their own academic success. (1)
The study goes onto supposing that the child sees the parent who helps them with their schoolwork as a trusted study partner. Also after seeing their parents involvement, they are more likely to see the outcome of their education as something they have control over.
Furthermore, a literature review by Professor Charles Desforges and Alberto Abouchaar called “The Impact of Parental Involvement, Parental Support and Family Education on Pupil Achievements and Adjustment: A Literature Review“ brings a range of research together to analyze the benefits of parental involvement.
The review suggests that there is a strong correlation between parental involvement and the child having a positive outlook on education. However, there were not any significant conclusive results linking parental involvement directly to academic success. (2)
How To Practice Parental Involvement
With the idea that anything a parent can do to improve a child’s education is certainly worth doing, there are many actions you can take to become more involved in your child’s education and learning:
Communication with the School and Teachers
Attending teacher-parent meetings is a step in the right direction, but these are few and far between and do not outwardly show a particular interest in the child’s learning. Having active and regular communications with the school and your child’s teachers allow you to be more involved and play an active role in the education of your child.
Not only does keeping regularly up to date with your child’s behavior and performance allow you to more readily take actions to help your child in the different aspects of their school life. It also serves to project to your child that you are there for them and you are interested in their education and their achievements.
After all, if your child doesn’t think you are interested in their education, why should they be?
Communication with your Child
Sometimes children can flounder at school and appear to be unmotivated. This can be caused by many issues that can relate to self-esteem, anxiety, negative outlook, fear or laziness. If you want to know what motivates your child to do well in school, it starts with how you and your child communicate.
If you both have a relationship of mutual respect and trust they will be much more likely to believe you when you explain to them why school is important. They will be much more open in telling you about any issues they may have and it’s up to you to deal with them in a way that you see fit.
Sometimes the relationship between child and parent can be quite rocky. There can be communication issues, fights, yelling and frustration and this does not help anyone, particularly your child who will carry the stress into their education.
Parents who have trouble with getting the relationship with their child back on track find that taking online parenting classes is an all-around remedy and see dramatic improvements in their family life.
Courses such as Positive Parenting Solutions lay the groundwork and give parents the tools and abilities communicate with their child in a way that promotes a healthy relationship of respect and trust. The benefit of it being an online course is that it can be done in the comfort of your own home, in your own time, with no external pressure or stresses.
Participate in Their Learning
Take it upon yourself to actually learn the stuff that they’re being taught. This point rings truer for kids who are in high and are beginning to learn things that are beyond the parents understanding or concepts that you may have forgotten from your high school days.
The parent’s role in the education of their child doesn’t stop when they hit high school, even if they are showing more independence and taking responsibility for their own learning. With that said, they do need space to grow on their own but they can still benefit from parental support.
It’s shown that parental involvement tends to decrease in the high school years and this is most likely due to a parents loss of interest in the subjects or feeling that the subjects are beyond them. But it pays to read around the subject, have an open dialogue with your kid and get them to teach you so that you can help them where they may struggle.
Engage in Extracurricular Activities to Inspire Them
Learning shouldn’t just end at school as children have passions that they like to explore. Take them to museums, help them get into hobbies and set aside time to read books together. Giving them this extra time to develop new interests or strengthen interests that they already have can tie into their education as they want to learn more.
For example, you may have a son or daughter who absolutely loves bugs or dinosaurs. Help them to develop passions like these because the further your child explores these hobbies, the more they’ll find they need to learn more advanced concepts to progress.
Reading time is great because reading in itself helps to develop a vocabulary and skills verbal and written expression whilst also broadening the possibilities of the imagination. There are books on every subject you can think of and so books can also be used to expand a child’s passions.
Some children are reluctant to read because they find it boring or they are not confident in their abilities but it’s ok to read easier material in the beginning. After some time, book club with mom and/dad becomes a thing, and you can read novels together and discuss them to really bond with each other while creating an atmosphere of learning and family togetherness.
Make Connections Between School Topics and Everyday Life
If you have a sense of what your child is learning at school, you can help to solidify the concepts in their head by relating what they learn at school to the activities they partake in outside of school.
Maths is frequently used in cooking to measure ingredients and when calculating portion sizes. US geography can be discussed when looking at license plates when you are out traveling and English literature can be enjoyed by reading poems.
The opportunity to talk about science is all around you but it depends on what stage your child is at school. Food has nutritional information which relates to the constituent molecules, different tools, and electronic devices utilize a variety of forces and mechanisms to work. Discuss these things with your child if it relates to their studies.
Be a Role Model
Your child will look to you as an example of how to approach life. If you tend to spend your free time watching the TV, they will think this is preferred over learning. Why not take up a hobby yourself? Learn something new and gain a new skill. You could even have your kid join in or help so that you also have a bonding activity.
When taking up this new hobby, no matter what it is, try to get as much form it as possible. Don’t just take it for face value, research the scientific, mathematical or historical concepts behind it.
For example, if you were to take up gardening and growing plants, don’t just stop at knowing what you need to know to produce results. Learn about horticulture, plant biology, ecology and any other related topics to gardening.
The reason you take this in-depth approach is to show your child that you are also interested in learning and that you take it seriously. It shows them how learning can enhance your life by giving you a better understanding and appreciation for the things that you like to do.
Reduce TV and Video Games Time
Kids these days grow up with instant entertainment right at their fingertips. They only need to click a button and they have imagery and sound projected right before their very eyes. For entertainment value this is great! But the huge downside is that it is addictive and counterproductive as shown by Sussman and Moran. (3)
The allure of electronic entertainment devices comes from the fact that they’re just so easy and instant. People get used to the idea of having their minds occupied without having to put in any effort and this is harmful as it keeps them from productive activities or developing themselves.
Even though it is difficult to do, you should try to minimize the amount of TV and video games your child has access to. And just like most of the other points made on this article, you also need to be the example, you need to show your kids what you expect of them through your own actions.
How Do Parents Communicate With The School?
Other than parent-teacher meetings that happen every end of a semester, teachers and parents rarely communicate. The good old fashioned telephone to either arrange a time to speak to a teacher on a call, or to arrange a date to meet the teacher is the best way.
Organizing a phone call or in the face meeting with the teacher is the best way to get to know your child’s teacher and have a talk about their behavior, their academic performance, and their preferred subjects.
Schools are also starting to implement the use of technology a lot more now than in the recent past. Many schools use a section of their website which parents can log into to see their child’s posted grades. They can also use this to conveniently view teachers comments and criticisms.
Some schools also even have apps for smartphones that the parents can use to access their child’s school performance from anywhere at any time. This makes it even easier to effectively get the information you want from school without having to spend too much time.
The downside of the use of this technology is the lack of nuance. The teacher is able to relay a lot more detailed information to you verbally than they could on these high tech facilities that schools make available.
The answer is to use a mixture of both. Try to get regular phone calls or face to face meeting with the teacher. But for basic information such as just seeing the grades and teachers comments on child’s work, the apps and websites are quick, easy and convenient.
How Do You Perceive Your Role as a Parent in the Education of Your Child?
It can be quite difficult to fully recognize the parent’s role in the education of their child and establish an environment of learning in the home. Parental involvement is not easy, it requires you to be active and disengaged from other responsibilities that you may have.
Some parents wish they could be more involved in their child’s education but they are inhibited by work or other obligations. Some have a rocky relationship with their child which greatly hurts their ability to be more involved and maybe worries that the relationship is causing their stressed child to perform poorly at school.
How do you find you fit into your child’s education? Is an atmosphere of learning in the household difficult to maintain? Is your household too chaotic? Do you have too many responsibilities to practice everything written here?
Let us know your opinions and experiences in the comments below!