Parental involvement improves students’ academic achievements

Parental involvement improves students’ academic achievements

Dr. Gnanaseharan Selliah, Ed.D. 

Increasing parental involvement in children’s education is crucial for fostering academic success and students’ overall well-being. As a public school teacher for the past 25 years, a parents’ adviser and the father of a young adult son, I have planned and implemented educational decisions for my son that paved the way for him to excel in education, sports, community service, leadership and other areas during his high school career.  

My son went on to complete his undergraduate studies at Princeton University, obtain a master’s degree at the London School of Economics and become a Fulbright scholarship recipient to do postgraduate studies in India. He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree on a full scholarship at Stanford University. 

While my pride in my son’s achievements is clear, it is not my goal to brag, but to stress the importance of parental involvement in education. I share my experience of playing an important role in my son’s academic achievements with other parents because I believe this may help them navigate their way in helping their own children.  

I began by setting high but realistic academic expectations for my son, and I kept encouraging him to strive for excellence. I emphasized the importance of facing challenges at school and in his personal life and to resolve them with minimal help from his parents or teachers.  

By establishing a daily routine that included dedicated time for studying, homework, leisure and reading, I hoped to instill in my son good study habits and discipline in his life.  

As an immigrant student trying to navigate through a new educational and cultural system in Newark, my son, like any other immigrant student, faced challenges and obstacles. He nonetheless achieved his goal of getting into an Ivy League school with support from teachers and his parents.  

Parental involvement is crucial to a child’s academic development. Since parents have direct control of children, their care and their influence on their children’s daily routines significantly impact their learning, behavior, social and emotional progress, and leadership and problem-solving skills.  

Throughout his school career, I was in constant communication with various school administrators, teachers and counselors to make certain that my son’s learning went smoothly. I attended parent-teacher conferences and school events, and I volunteered in his classroom and the broader school community. I believe that building positive relationships with teachers and school staff fosters collaboration and ensures that parents are informed about their children’s progress and any concerns that may arise. 

Significance of parental involvement 

Students with involved parents tend to perform better academically than those without such involvement. Parental involvement is linked to students’ improved attitudes toward school and better behavior in the classroom. Moreover, parental involvement helps to build strong parent-child relationships and foster a sense of security. A disconnect between the school and parents negatively affects students’ academic standards.  

Parental involvement in education has a long-lasting impact on children’s education and on the positive development of the school itself. Their involvement can take many forms, including volunteering, attending parent-teacher conferences and participating in school decision-making processes.  

School leaders, teachers, parents and the community all contribute to children’s academic success.  When parents are involved in school activities and events, it fosters better communication and collaboration between parents, teachers, and school administrators. This can lead to the development of more effective teaching strategies, tailored interventions for struggling students, and a better understanding of student needs, all of which can lead to the school’s improvement and development. 

Though children often spend more time with teachers than with their parents, education is still viewed as the central responsibility of parents and guardians. Lack of parental involvement has been a great concern for many schools in recent years, and improving parental involvement may lead to positive development in multiple areas including improving the quality of education, enforcing disciplinary measures, and building relationships with families and communities. 

It is important that schools actively engage parents in decision-making processes and create opportunities for families to participate in school activities. For example, schools can update parents regularly with information on their children’s academic progress and strategies, which may help parents support children’s learning at home. Research studies find a positive correlation between parental involvement and academic achievement across all grade levels, and it is most effective when it is focused on academics and general involvement in school activities. 

The history of parental involvement 

According to a 2016 report from the U.S. Department of Education, parental involvement was actively encouraged by the 1960s and 1970s, when there was a movement toward greater parental involvement in education.  

With the introduction of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1975, parental involvement became mandatory in the education of children with disabilities. This legislation recognized the importance of parental involvement in the education of all children, which paved the way for increased parental involvement in schools. According to the USDOE report, the percentage of students whose parents participated in the meetings at their child’s school increased from 72% in 1996 to 89% in 2016.  

Fostering increased parental involvement 

Parental involvement not only improves children’s academic achievement but also has a positive impact on the whole community. Actions that increase parental involvement may include the creation of programs that connect parents, such as the creation of family collaboration networks. These networks can build a strong partnership between parents and teachers, providing tools and guidance for families to help children complete their homework and other school activities.  

Through networking, parents can share valuable resources and information related to education, such as recommended tutors, scholarship opportunities, writing contests, educational smartphone apps, study techniques and extracurricular opportunities. This exchange of knowledge can help parents better support their children’s learning needs. 

Teachers play a crucial role in increasing parental involvement by maintaining close ties with families and creating open lines of communication to keep them updated with the latest educational developments at school.  

Improving parental involvement requires school administrators to communicate with parents regularly and build networks and programs that incentivize parental involvement. Creating a welcoming and inclusive school environment encourages parents to actively participate in school activities and events.  

Schools can organize orientation programs for new parents, provide volunteer opportunities and involve them in decision-making processes. For example, schools can present workshops, seminars or information sessions aimed at educating parents about the importance of their involvement in their children’s education. These programs can also provide parents with strategies and resources to support their children’s learning at home. 

Parents as role models 

Parents, who model positive behavior and emphasize the importance of good conduct at home, school and community, contribute to their children’s understanding of appropriate behavior at school. Children learn what they live and often emulate the behavior they observe in their parents. Parents who are involved in their children’s education are more likely to support school initiatives such as fundraising efforts, volunteering or advocating for policy changes. This can help schools implement new programs more effectively, which leads to school improvement. 

Parental engagement in education during the early childhood years is one of the key strategies that school leaders could use to close the achievement gap among students. Consistency between home and school environments reinforces behavioral expectations, contributing to a more stable and positive school experience for the child. When parents become supportive of their children by helping to resolve issues such as preparing for tests and selecting the right courses, they empower them with skills in conflict resolution. 

Parents who communicate regularly with teachers and actively monitor their children’s progress are better equipped to address behavioral issues promptly. Children who feel emotionally supported at home tend to exhibit fewer behavioral problems at school, which leads to a positive attitude toward learning. Moreover, parents’ involvement in resolving children’s behavioral issues, such as withdrawal and anxiety symptoms, helps teachers and administrators to resolve those problems before they develop further.  

Parental involvement promotes academic achievement 

Children with involved parents are more likely to exhibit positive attitudes toward school, higher levels of school attendance, and fewer disciplinary issues. Parental involvement fosters a sense of connection and belonging within the school community, which encourages children to engage actively in their education.  

When parents are engaged in their child’s education, they often set higher standards and expectations for academic performance, which can motivate children to strive for success.  

Collaborative partnerships between parents, schools, and teachers are essential for student success. Involved parents communicate regularly with teachers, attend parent-teacher conferences, and participate in school events, allowing them to stay informed about their children’s academic growth and work together with educators to address academic needs. 

Children generally feel more comfortable discussing their learning challenges with their parents than with their teachers. Learning can thus be more effective in a relaxed environment when parents assist students with homework and discuss various matters related to their education. Moreover, children improve school grades when parents provide assistance at home, which benefits adolescents across all races and ethnic groups.

Dr. Gnanaseharan Selliah is an English as a second language teacher at Bloomfield High School in Essex County. He has taught various public schools, community colleges and universities in Sri Lanka, South Africa, Canada and the United States for the past 35 years. Selliah earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Liberty University in Virginia in 2023. He conducts in-person and online seminars and conferences to promote parental involvement in children’s education. He can be reached via email at [email protected]

Positive effects of parental involvement

Academic success: Research shows that students with involved parents tend to perform better academically, have higher attendance rates, and exhibit more positive attitudes toward school. 

Social and emotional well-being: Parental involvement contributes to children’s social and emotional development by providing them with a strong support system and nurturing environment, leading to higher self-esteem and resilience. 

Positive school culture: Schools with high levels of parental involvement often have a more positive and supportive school culture, fostering collaboration between teachers, parents and students, enhancing overall school effectiveness.

How to improve parental involvement

Communication: Establish clear and effective communication channels between parents and schools, such as newsletters, emails and parent-teacher conferences to keep parents informed about their child’s progress and school activities.

Family engagement activities: Organize family-oriented events and activities, such as family nights, literacy workshops or cultural celebrations to create opportunities for parents to engage with their child’s school and participate in their learning journey. 

Technology integration: Utilize technology platforms and digital tools to facilitate communication and engagement between parents and schools, such as parent portals, online forums or mobile apps for accessing school information and resources. 

More to read  

U.S. Department of Education   

“Parent and family engagement in education: Results from the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2016” 

From the editor: NJEA Families and Schools Together Work for Children 

The NJEAs Families and Schools Together Work for Children (FAST) program encourages families to be involved in their children’s education and enhance their academic progress. The program also helps families feel welcome in public schools. FAST is a coalition of education advocates, community groups and schools working together to foster family involvement. 

FAST program activities 

NJEA FAST offers resources to local and county associations for various initiatives, including:  

  • Partnerships, discussions and programs focusing on family involvement. 
  •  Family involvement workshops through which parents and caregivers learn more about helping children succeed in school. These events include activities for children so that families can attend them together. 
  • Visits by school employees to participating places of worship and other community meeting places to invite and encourage parents and caregivers to participate in teacher conferences and school activities. 

FAST is a jointly sponsored effort of the NJEA, local associations, the Statewide Parents Advocacy Network, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, with additional program support from the NAACP Statewide Education Committee. 

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