Getting Involved in Your Child's Education

  • From the National Education Association (www.nea.org)

    Why Is Parental Involvement Important?
    In study after study, researchers discover how important it is for parents to be actively involved in their child's education. Here are some of the findings of major research into parental involvement:

    • When parents are involved in their children's education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school, and the schools they go to are better.
    • The family makes critical contributions to student achievement from preschool through high school. A home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than income, education level or cultural background.
    • Reading achievement is more dependent on learning activities in the home than is math or science. Reading aloud to children is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child's chance of reading success. Talking to children about books and stories read to them also supports reading achievement.
    • When children and parents talk regularly about school, children perform better academically.
    • Three kinds of parental involvement at home are consistently associated with higher student achievement: actively organizing and monitoring a child's time, helping with homework and discussing school matters.
    • The earlier that parent involvement begins in a child's educational process, the more powerful the effects.
    • Positive results of parental involvement include improved student achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored confidence among parents in their children's schooling.

    How Can Parents Get Involved?

    Involvement in your child's education can mean:

    • Reading to your child
    • Checking homework every night
    • Discussing your children's progress with teachers
    • Voting in school board elections
    • Helping your school to set challenging academic standards
    • Limiting TV viewing on school nights
    • Becoming an advocate for better education in your community and state.

    Or, it can be as simple as asking your children, "How was school today?" But ask every day. That will send your children the clear message that their schoolwork is important to you and you expect them to learn.

    Some parents and families are able to be involved in their child's education in many ways. Others may only have time for one or two activities. Whatever your level of involvement, do it consistently and stick with it because you will make an important difference in your child's life.

    Homework Tips for Parents

    From the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov/parents/academic/involve/homework/index.html)

    Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework.
    Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions, such as people coming and going.

    Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and a dictionary, are available.
    Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.

    Help your child with time management.
    Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don't let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.

    Be positive about homework.
    Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires.

    When your child does homework, you do homework.
    Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.

    When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
    Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.

    When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it.
    Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.

    If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away.
    Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.

    Stay informed.
    Talk with your child's teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child's class rules are.

    Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.
    Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.

    Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
    Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.

    Reward progress in homework.
    If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.

    Finally, get involved with other parents through our educational foundations: Support our Schools