Highlighting Parent Involvement in Education Family Involvement • Research demonstrates that parent/ family involvement significantly contributes to improved student outcomes. • Everyone -- students, parents, teachers, administrators, and communities -- benefits from family involvement. What are the Benefits? • More positive attitudes toward school; • Higher achievement, better attendance, and more homework completed consistently; • Higher graduation rates and enrollment rates in post-secondary education; • Better schools to attend. Benefits for Parents • Greater knowledge of education programs and how schools work; • Knowledge of how to be more supportive of children; • Greater confidence about ways to help children learn; • More positive view of teachers; and, • Greater empowerment. Benefits for School Staff • Greater teaching effectiveness; • Higher expectations of students; • Increased ability to understand family views and cultures; • Greater appreciation of parent volunteers; and, • Improved morale. Benefits for Communities: • Greater strength; • Greater impact of services through comprehensive, integrated approach; • Increased access to services for families. Research on Involvement • Effective parent/family involvement improves student outcomes throughout the school years. • While parent/family involvement improves student outcomes, variations in culture, ethnicity, and/ or socioeconomic background affect how families are involved. • Parent/family involvement at home has more impact on children than parent/family involvement in school activities. • The nature of effective parent/family involvement changes as children reach adolescence. • Parent/family involvement in early childhood programs help children succeed in their transition to kindergarten and elementary school. • Parent/families may need guidance and assistance in how to effectively help their children with homework. • Parent/family involvement will differ for ethnic and cultural groups. These differences should be considered when planning parent/ family involvement programs. • Improved student outcomes have been documented in math and reading when families are involved. • The most promising opportunity for student achievement occurs when families, schools, and community organizations work together. • To be effective, school programs must be individualized to fit the needs of the students, parents, and community. • Effective programs assist parents in creating a home environment that fosters learning and provides support and encouragement for their children’s success. • Teachers must be trained to promote effective parent/family involvement. Outdated Thinking on Parent Involvement • Parents should come to school only when invited; • Stay-at-home mothers serve as “homeroom mothers”; • Parents visit school mainly for children’s performances and open houses; • Parents help raise money for school. • Schools that have been the most successful in involving families look beyond traditional definitions to a broader view that considers parents/families as full partners in the education of their children. • These schools view children’s learning as a shared responsibility among everyone involved in the child’s education. What is a Family? • • • • • • • • • Traditional? Blended? Extended? Multi-generational? Migrant? Minority? Single-parent? Divorced? Other? A Personal Definition • For the purpose of today’s conversation, “Parent” or “Family” refers to anyone actively involved in raising and educating a child. Factors in Involvement • Parents are a child’s first teachers. • The American family has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. • Schools aren’t always knowledgeable in how to encourage involvement. • Parents don’t always recognize the importance of becoming involved or know where to begin. Ten Truths of Parent Involvement • All parents have hopes and goals for their children. They differ in how they support their children’s efforts to achieve those goals. • The home is one of several areas that simultaneously influence a child. The school must work with people in the other areas for the child’s benefit. • The parent is the central contributor to a child’s education. Schools can either ignore this fact or recognize the potential of the parent. • Parent involvement must be a legitimate element of education. It deserves equal emphasis with elements such as program improvement and evaluation. • Parent involvement is a process, not a program of activities. It requires ongoing energy and effort. • Parent involvement requires a vision, policy, and framework. A consensus of understanding is important. • Parents’ interaction with their own children is the cornerstone of parent involvement. A program must recognize the value, diversity, and difficulty of this role. • Most barriers to parent involvement are found within school practices. They are not found with parents. • Any parent can be “hard to reach.” Parents must be identified and approached individually; they are not defined by gender, ethnicity, family situation, education, or income. • Successful parent involvement nurtures relationships and partnerships. It strengthens bonds between home and school, parent and teacher, parent and school, school and community. Barriers to Involvement • Lack of a school environment that supports parent/family involvement; • School practices that do not accommodate the diversity of family needs; • Child care constraints; • Families’ past negative experiences with schools and/or feelings of uncertainty about “treading on school territory.” • Cultural differences (language barriers, attitudes toward professionals, lack of knowledge of the American education system); • Primacy of basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter take precedence over educational needs); • Feelings of inadequacy associated with difference in income or education; • Safety, especially in inner-city school neighborhoods; • Uncertainty about what to do; and, • Lack of time. 100 Ways • The brochure, “100 Ways for Parents to be Involved in Their Child’s Education” is available from the National PTA; – http://www.pta.org/ – Based on the National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs. Remember These 10 Guiding Principles • Family members are equal partners in a child’s education. • The home environment is the “primary” educational environment. • Schools must respect the diversity o families and their varied needs. • All families care about their children. • Family involvement is important through all years of a child’s education. • Family involvement takes many forms and may not require a family’s presence at school. • Families, schools, and communities are closely interconnected and must collaborate in educating children. • School leaders and staff need support and training in how to encourage family involvement. • One size does not fit all when developing school-family partnerships. • Change takes time and building successful partnerships requires much effort over time. • Become involved in your local school. • Contact a Parent-Educator Resource Center near you for information on upcoming parent training opportunities. Thank You!