The Education Triangle – Why Parental Involvement is Pivotal

We are all concerned about the state of education. From declining test scores and underfunding, to high school dropout and illiteracy rates, it can sometimes seem as if the nation is on the brink of an educational crisis. If our children do poorly, we often lay blame on teachers, educators, and leaders. If our children do well, we often complaisantly breath a sigh of relief that at least our school, our community, and our teacher, has somehow escaped the quagmire of incompetence.Whether our child’s academic performance is poor or exceptional, as parents we must turn to ourselves to shoulder both some of the blame or the credit. While we are often powerless to afford any immediate changes to the funding or facilities, we do control our homes and our hearts. With a mind towards active parental involvement in our child’s education, we can make a difference. A review of over sixty studies (Henderson (1:23-152) examining parent involvement and student achievement concluded that when parents are involved in their child’s education at home they do better in school. When parents are involved at school, their children attend school longer, and the schools they go to are better.Involvement in your child’s education can mean:Read, Write, and DiscussRead to your child. Read in front of your child. Discuss what you read, and ask questions. Write letters, play word games, storytell, and generally create a print-rich environment. An environment that fosters critical thought and creative expression, is an environment ripe to create a naturally curious child, and a good student. You need not be a natural academic to create these changes in your home; simply focusing books and discussion on subjects that are naturally of interest to you and your child. Whether it’s science, sports, religion, or fashion, reading can create a love of learning that your whole family can be passionate about.Be Homework SavyStay aware of your child’s homework situation, especially if there is a problem. If your child’s teacher doesn’t utilize tools such as website assignment updates, homework logs, or teacher conferences, be proactive. Teachers are often overwhelmed, burnt-out, and discouraged by the apathy common in so many parents. Review your child’s homework every night (though don’t do it for them) and discuss the work. If necessary, arrange for conferences, make your own homework log, or ask for resources if you need assistance in helping your child.Talk to Your Child’s TeacherBe diligent about attending back-to-school-night, open house, teacher conferences, and other school events. Touch base with your child’s teacher on a regular basis. If a problem arises, it is much easier to approach your child’s teacher if you already have an established relationship.Make School a PriorityBy making school a priority, you are sending the message to your child that education matters. Minimize missed school and help your child arrive to school on time every day. Emphasize the role of educator as one worthy of the highest honor and respect, similar to that of a parent. Set a consistent bedtime and restrict activities such as television, outings, and video games on school nights, and make sure you serve balanced, nutritious meals to assure a sharp mind for school. Treats can wait for the weekend.Be an Education AdvocateRemain aware of issues that affect public education, both locally and statewide. Vote in school board elections and attend PTA meetings, and participate in district or school fundraising efforts to help supplement underfunded schools. Even schools in more affluent areas can suffer the results of budget cuts, which can affect arts programs, athletic programs, facility improvement, and class size.Finally, just stay connected. Even inquiring your child about their school day, each and every day, will help send the message to your child that education matters. While some parents are able to be involved in several facets of their child’s education, others may only have time for one or two activities. Just letting your child know you care, and willing to sacrifice your own time and effort for their education, can make a difference. Whatever your level of personal involvement, do so with a spirit of dedication and commitment. It can make a huge difference in your child’s life.