Parental Involvement in Education

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Are we doing enough to help our children succeed? 

Parental involvement in a child’s education is a major indicator of their success in school, however, not in ways you might think. Today, as many working parents often have little time to physically be at their child’s school, we sometimes feel guilt at our perceived lack of involvement. Of course, it is easy to start comparing ourselves to other very parents, leaving many of us wondering, are we doing enough in the classroom to help our children succeed?

According to Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association (NEA), the most significant type of involvement that parents can have in their child’s education is not what we do in the classroom, but rather, what we do at home. The NEA suggests that bridging the gap between what is learned at school and how it is relevant to day-to-day life is a critical role for parents. Daily engagement with our children, monitoring, supporting and advocating can help ensure that our children have every opportunity for success.

The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), another national leader in education and child advocacy, agrees with the NEA’s assessment that parents are most effective by being present and involved at home. In their PTA Parent’s Guide to Success, the National PTA recommends some specific ways that parent’s can help children thrive in school. With our busy schedules, it can often seem difficult to get everything done, but incorporating a few simple steps into our daily routine can make all the difference in our children’s future. Some of these recommendations include:

  1. Help your child learn at home. Set aside a time every day when your child can concentrate and focus on homework. Fifteen to thirty minutes should suffice.
  2. Make reading a part of your daily routine. Read with your child, or depending on their age, encourage reading every day.
  3. Talk to your children! Encourage your child to tell you about their day at school. You can also use real life situations like tipping at a restaurant or discussing the news to continue learning throughout the day.
  4. Set goals with your child and create a plan to reach them.

Now, we often hear of national recommendations and sometimes wonder, how do these suggestions apply to us here in the RGV? Based on her experience, teacher, founder at PACE Academy in Brownsville, current school board president, and mother too, Robin Wilson-Clipson believes that we can and should make these things happen. Routine and support are among her most important recommendations for parents to help their children succeed at school. Wilson-Clipson noted that teachers are there to teach and parents should not have to feel like school needs to continue when the family gets home. She said, “Be a caregiver, an awesome supporter, a foundation provider. Your most important job is to be a parent.” She has seen first-hand that providing a strong support system as well as fulfilling our children’s basic needs is essential to their success. Even providing a healthy breakfast, making sure they get enough sleep, and being on time can immediately show significant improvements in a student’s performance at school. Furthermore, Wilson-Clipson noted the importance of recognizing each child’s strengths and passions. To foster success, she encourages parents to talk to their children daily and get excited about what they are doing at school. When parents care about education, students usually show more interest too. Of course, checking on your child’s grades is also a great tool for keeping up with their progress. This has never been easier as now, the majority of schools provide parents with online access to grades as well as other information and resources. Communicating with teachers, especially if you have any questions or concerns, can help as well.

According to Wilson-Clipson, in addition to providing a strong support system at home, another impactful way that parents can get involved with their child’s school is by getting the community involved and making an effort to raise funds and secure donations. Parents who advocate for children at the local level can help schools obtain the funds to improve facilities and provide state-of-the-art resources for children to learn and grow. Participating in your school’s PTA, sometimes called PTO or Parent Teacher Organization, can help parents find opportunities to participate when and how they can.

So, is parental involvement important to your child’s success at school? Absolutely. Talk to your child’s school and teacher to find out when and how you can help out, but most importantly, be present in your child’s life, show an interest in what they care about, and be there to provide for their physical and emotional needs. To make a difference in your child’s education, be the best parent you can be and the rest will follow!