By Superintendent Ken Adams
Did you know that children spend 78% of their waking hours (including weekends and holidays) outside of school. The University of Michigan has compiled data from a number of sources which indicate that parental involvement in this time away from the classroom has a significant impact on student performance.
Listed below are a few interesting bullet points from that research.
When Parents Should Get Involved
• 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.
• Decades of research show that when parents are involved students have:
* Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates
* Better school attendance
* Increased motivation, better self-esteem
* Lower rates of suspension
* Decreased use of drugs and alcohol
* Fewer instances of violent behavior
• Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status. Some of the more intensive programs had effects that were 10 times greater than other factors.
• The more intensely parents are involved, the more beneficial the achievement effects.
• The more parents participate in schooling, in a sustained way, at every level—in advocacy, decision-making and oversight roles, as fundraisers and boosters, as volunteers and para-professionals, and as teachers at home – the better for student achievement.
Parent Expectations and Student Achievement
• The most consistent predictors of children’s academic achievement and social adjustments are parent expectations of the child’s academic attainment and satisfaction with their child’s education at school.
• Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards for their children’s educational activities than parents of low-achieving students.
Parents should always make it a point to attend parent/teacher conferences and SEOP’s. These conferences become even more effective when the child attends with the parents. Historically, we see most parents attending these events when their children are young and fewer parents attending as their children move from grade to grade. By the time a teenager reaches the eleventh and twelfth grades less than 20% of parents attend the conferences. As a general rule this 20% is comprised mostly of parents whose children are academically high performers.
Parental involvement becomes even more critical when we talk about children with learning challenges and special needs. Experience has taught me that parents who accept the fact that their child needs additional educational assistance and are willing to become part of the educational process on a regular and sustained basis, greatly increase the chances of the child’s success in school.
The development of the Morgan High School Scholarship Board is a prime example of the positive effects of parental involvement. This organization took root because a handful of parents and community members were willing to give of their time and talents. Today, the scholarship board is one of the premier organizations of its kind in the State of Utah. Literally hundreds of students have been helped on their way to college thanks to these dedicated parents and volunteers.
In the Morgan County School District it has been my privilege over the years to work with many involved parents in a variety of ways. Recently, administrators, counselors, the school nurse, and parents worked together to create a new fifth grade maturation program for our district. The process of investigating, collaborating, and creating produced a program that is well suited for our students.
It was impressive to see the large number of parents that attended the maturation program, including working fathers and mothers. Having them sit by the side of their children during this program created an impression of caring that will assist these youngsters through the difficult maturation years.
I invite all parents to take a more active role in the educational process. Working with the child and school personnel in a positive and meaningful manner will increase the academic success of the student and help prepare them for meaningful work, advanced education, responsible citizenship, and life-long learning.