How School Leaders Nurture Involved Parents
The involvement of parents and other caregivers in a child’s education is a concept that languished during the latter part of the 20th century but it is once again in the forefront of education. Involved parenting is more than just a fad. Recent studies, including a 2002 study by Henderson and Mapp, indicate that students with parents who are directly involved in their education score up to 30 percent higher on standardized tests. The study further indicates that a family’s income had little bearing on a child’s achievement as long as the parents were involved in the education process. In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 mentions parent involvement more than 300 times, includes a section devoted exclusively to the topic, and requires schools that receive certain federal funding to have a written plan for parent involvement.
Encouraging Involved Parenting At Schools
How are school leaders around the United States encouraging parents to take an active role in their child’s education? Below are just a few examples:
1. In Washington State, the state Office of Education advises schools to give homework that involves talking with a parent or guardian in order to complete the assignment, videotaping parent/teacher conferences for those parents who cannot attend, and creating ways for parents who work during the day to be able to volunteer from home and on weekends.
2. The State of Iowa has the Iowa Parent Education Resource Center, a group created to increase parent involvement in education. This organization encourages educators to be welcoming to all families, not just English-speaking parents or parents who volunteer at the school. They also challenge educators in the state to invite family members to the classroom; make home visits, if necessary, to engage parents; and to find ways to bring the community into the classroom.
3. The Illinois Department of Education has published 92 ways for teachers and educators to involve parents in the education process. These include drawing up a contract between the parents and the school, outlining each party’s responsibilities; giving parents lists of questions to discuss with their children that coincide with classroom topics; and establishing a homework “hotline” for parents to check homework assignments.
4. In culturally diverse Hawaii, the Department of Education recommends that teachers and educators involve parents by sending out a classroom newsletter, creating a stock teacher postcard to make it easy for classroom teachers to send messages to parents, and including community living lessons that highlight the difference cultural experiences in Hawaii in the classroom lesson plans.
Involved parenting doesn’t have to be an elusive goal. By thinking beyond traditional parent/teacher roles, a greater number of family members can become active in their child’s education. The results are likely to be staggering.