4 Ways to Improve Parent Involvement in K-12 Learning
By Matthew Lynch
Students benefit when there are parent-school partnerships surrounding their school work. However, it is not always easy to promote such a culture of shared responsibility, especially given the great time demands placed on parents and teachers today. Schools may face difficulty in attaining an efficient collaborative framework among stakeholders, which include teachers, parents, students, the community, and the administration. Trust between schools and parents, in particular, is vital for creating a healthy learning environment.
So what can be done to foster stronger relationships between parents and teachers, administrators and whole schools?
1. Encourage collaboration. In general, parents who are supported by regular interactive meetings with teachers often show greater trust levels in teacher-parent relationships. Schools can create an environment favorable for the development of teacher-parent relationships by sharing the responsibility of improving learning processes and the academic performance of children. Many schools that claim to support collaborative decision-making patterns hold complete decision-making authority in their own hands, which can reduce the positive influence of collaborative decision-making pattern. Let parents feel empowered in the learning paths of their kids by allowing them certain input and choices.
2. Work toward creating a friendly school environment. A healthy and congenial school environment, with an enabling and flexible structure, can help develop trust between school administrators and parents. Generally, education and school leaders try to generate a social framework that will help teachers, administrators, and parents resolve differences in a peaceful and supportive manner. Overall improvement of student performance can be the outcome of improved relationships between teachers and parents.
3. Reduce bureaucratic barriers. Many times, barriers are created that prevent teachers from developing effective student-teacher relationships and discourage parents from taking part in helping students develop their learning skills. A parent who feels that his or her input is not wanted may give up on trying to be an influential part of his or her child’s life. The bureaucratic system of schools should allow plenty of room for parent and student input – and then take that feedback seriously. The centralized or hierarchical authority of schools can be used to implement these supportive regulations and policies to enhance parental involvement. Both can work together for a better outcome for the students.
4. Respect the deep-rooted importance of family. Parental involvement in education and its effect on the academic performance of a child requires recognizing the fact that parents are children’s first teachers. Home is the first school, and as such, it is the place where children learn an abundance of skills, knowledge, and attitudes, some of which supports what is taught in schools. It’s true that some parents are more involved in the academic strides of their children than others – but with the right encouragement, teachers and schools can give parents the tools and encouragement needed to help their children succeed to the next level.
When parents get involved with their children’s educations, the children tend to succeed academically, and tend to perform better on exams (which, as we all know, is certainly helpful to teachers). They miss fewer school days and tend to be more conscientious about completing school-related work outside of school.
Conversely, children whose families are not as involved in their school experiences are often unable to compete academically with peers, their attendance is less regular, and they are less likely to graduate from high school. Clearly, any movement toward building a stronger relationship between schools and parents will have a positive impact on student performance. Involved parents are the key to success when it comes to the improvement of K-12 students inside classrooms – and teachers, administrators and schools should encourage parents to play that pivotal role.