By: Alex Martin
The importance of parental involvement as an accelerating and motivating factor in their children’s education is a worldwide-accepted fact. This research project provides an in depth explanation along with specific reasons, the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education. It also discusses the parenting techniques, their types and their consequences if neglected. It also describes the ways to measure the outcome of the positive parental involvement. Furthermore, it mentions the teachers involvement and the difficulties faced by the teachers in getting parents involved in their children’s (this is further supported by the examples of two teachers who with their deliberate efforts won the parents over to devote their maximum attention towards their children), single-parent involvement, children’s own efforts to improve their academic levels and joint home-school based interventions. A detailed analysis of the different main ideas is given, based on the findings from other research surveys and projects.
Parental involvement can be seen to fall into three types: 1) Behavioral, 2) Intellectual and 3) Personal. The research explores the effect of multi-dimensional participation of parents and the resulting progress of children in their studies when different parental resources were dedicated to them. Actively participating parents help their children in their academic development by going to schools and participating in open houses. By keenly observing the behavior of their children they can rightly judge the kind of behavior or the allocation of resources required by their children. Such caring parents can also motivate teachers to become more attentive towards a particular student, thus maintaining the cycle of parent-teacher involvement. Encourage Building up cognitive and perception abilities in a child are a major concern in the upbringing of the child. The way the parents involve their children in cognitive learning is by exposing them to different cognitively stimulating activities and materials such as books, electronic media and current events at home. This helps the child to practice all sorts of language comprehending skills at the school. The results show a remarkably positive behavior at the school and with peers.
Two parenting processes namely the Supportive Parenting (SP) and Harsh Parenting (HP) helped a lot in the research of parental involvement in their children’s education. By adjusting the levels of supportive parenting, different levels of successful outcomes were observed. Supportive parenting in even kindergarten students yielded positive results. Four measures of supportive parenting were used in the study, they were:
1. Proactive teaching.
2. Calm discussion in disciplinary encounters.
4. Interest and involvement in peer activities.
The assessments were conducted when children entered kindergarten and when they reached grade 6. There was a factor noted to hinder children’s development: family adversity. It was the result of a multipurpose negative process that included the risk of low socio-economic status, single-parenting and family stress. Child maladjustments were found to be more common in families with such adversities. No matter how much negative impacts were cast, SP was found to overcome the risks associated with family adversity. SP was strongly related to adjustment procedures in grade 6 children who had single parent family or experienced low socio-economic status (SES) in their early childhood.
In a way to socialize their children, parents adopted the techniques of calm discussion and proactive teaching. They helped lessen the behavioral problems by carrying long discussions with their children, cultivating in them a sense of respect, calmness and peace of mind. Mothers also participated actively in reducing the peer stress among their children. It is also a widely accepted fact that supportive parenting plays an important role in the children’s development of empathy, prosocial behavior and emotional competence. On the negative side, the absence of supportive parenting may be related to the development of internal problems such as anxiety and depression.
Lack of the necessary parental care and attention is the main factor for the subsequent rise in the percentage of juvenile delinquency (crime among children). The absence of parental instructions causes children to develop irreversible behavioral and emotional problems. They in order to seek attention, resort to crimes thinking that in this way they could fulfill their wishes. They may revert to uncontrolled violence if not kept an eye upon. Such criminal activities cannot be brought to a halt until their distressing symptoms of low self-esteem, depression, dysphonic mood, tension and worries, and other disturbances are relieved. And the importance of parents’ role in this regard cannot be over-emphasized.
In an effort to describe parental involvement, many researchers use a term “Transition”(Lombardi, Joan). “Transition” is used to describe the time period in which children move from home to school, from school to after school activities, from one activity to another within a pre-school, or from pre-school to kindergarten. The untiring endeavors of teachers in the phenomenon of transition cannot be ignored. They prepared the children and their parents to face the problems of adjusting to elementary school programs that had different psychology, teaching styles and structure than the programs offered at the kindergarten level. In the elementary level schools the teachers had to face serious challenges in motivating the parents to take interest in their children’s activities. The teachers adopted different methods to involve the parents in day-to-day classroom and home activities. They used to send notes, invitation of parent-teacher meetings, invitation of parental guidance sessions and training sessions, continuously directing the parent’s attention towards their children. Patricia Brown Clark suggests that it is very important to keep the line of communication between teachers and parents open, so that the parents can interact with the teachers and get up to date information of their children’s school activities. One way to involve parents is to schedule school events and arranging classroom activities such as volunteering for libraries, acting as classroom aides or efficiently organizing lunch breaks. The teachers also opt for making phone calls at the children’s houses to keep in touch with the parents and getting to know the extent to which they are contributing towards the welfare of their children. Apart from the above activities, the teachers also assign home activities for both the parents and their children so that the parents remain indulged in their children and the children get to study at home. However, it was a bad and disappointing experience for the teachers when many of the parents failed to respond as expected. Many of the parents were so overwhelmed with their official work that they could hardly take out some time for their beloved children.
Moreover, for some parents their schoolings were not positive and character-boosting experiences, therefore they preferred to keep a distance from their children’s school as well. This made it really difficult and at times impossible for teachers to bring the parental involvement to the desired level. Nevertheless, the activities of two teachers proved greatly fruitful in making parents involved in their children. They were Carlos Valdez, an art teacher and 8th grade class sponsor, and Mike Hogan, the school’s band director. They did it by involving parents in music festivals and other school ceremonies. They proved to be great examples for the future teachers to come.
If the children’s academic development programs are to prove successful they must share two characteristics:
1) Developmentally appropriate practice:
A child’s academic progress is clearly reflected by the appropriate practice he/she administers while in school life. During transitions from pre-school to kindergarten, a child if given the exact developmentally appropriate practice tends to learn a great deal of language and playing skills. He develops a keen interest in exploring his environments and interacting (without hesitation) with his adults.
2) Supportive services:
These include the assistance that the school provides to low-income family students. The services include health care, childcare and community care. This strengthens the relation between school and children and creates a sense of security and confidence among the children. They get to learn that their communities are a part of their school since the school’s supportive services strive to help community development.
It is commonly believed that children are good self-teachers. Their self-initiated strategies help improve their expression, creativity, intellectual capabilities and extra-curricular skills. This idea is proved by the documentation of young children’s work provided by Reggio Emilia :
“The Reggio Emilia educators highlight young children’s amazing capabilities and indicate that it is through the unity of thinking and feeling that young children can explore their world, represent their ideas, and communicate with others at their highest level.”(Edwards, Pope. C, Springate, Wright.K)
The climax rests in the fact that how the parents would know that their sincere involvements are really proving worthwhile for their children. The answer lies in the attitude of the children. The degree of parental involvement can be judged by a child’s attitude towards his school subjects, his academic desires and achievements. There is a direct relationship between academic achievements and the attitude towards school. Schunk in 1981 had the following idea of aspiration or academic desires:
“Level of aspiration is defined as one’s subjective probability that he or she will reach a certain level of education.”(Abu, H. & Maher, M)
As a result children who received adequate parental concern were found to be much more confident in their academic desires and achievements than those who could not get the right amount of parental concern. The individual involvement of mothers and fathers also plays a vital role in the behavioral development of a child. Students from one-parent household were observed to show less positive attitude towards schools and studies as compared to students from two-parent households. One study aimed at investigating parental concern showed that despite mothers’ sincere endeavors, the role of fathers could not be ignored and both served as an important foundation for the future progress of the child. This can be proved from the following fact:
According to a recent report from the National Center for Educational Statistics (1997), compared to their counterparts, children with involved fathers are more likely to have participated in educational activities with their parents (e.g., to have visited a museum or a historical site with their parents in the past month), and are more likely to have access to multiple types of resources at home as well (as measured by the proportion of parents who belong to community or professional organizations, or regularly volunteer in the community). (Flouri, E. And Buchanan, A, Pg.142)
Also, the parental involvement has been discussed and implemented in terms of interventions or prevention programs, which are nothing but safety measures taken to assure healthy and perfect upbringing of the child. The study uses school-based and home-only intervention programs to find out the extent of intellectual capabilities found in children from different family backgrounds. The success of one school-based interventions can be proved from the following fact, which was a part of “Education Service Improvement Plan 2001-2005” of Edinburgh:
—-The Scottish Executive Discipline Task Force, which studied the causes of poor behavior among pupils in schools produced a report of ‘Better Behavior – Better Learning’ in June 2001. The report included 36 recommendations for action, which were then turned into an Action Plan in 2002. Many of these have implications for the Education Authority. (Craig Millar Instep Project)