What Is Parental Involvement and How Does It Affect Student Achievement?

From the moment a child is born, parents are regarded as their child's first teacher. Parents' roles and responsibilities include teaching, mentoring, and developing their children to become ready for the world ahead, both academically and socially. When their children begin formal schooling, most parents allow the school to take over a significant portion of their children's formal education. However, whether parents serve to reinforce the lessons learned at school or take an even more active role as their primary teacher in a home school environment, they continue to play a critical role in their children’s education and development all through adolescence.

The extent to which parents support learning at home and participate in their children's education has been found to be a very strong predictor of student success. Numerous studies have found that students who have home support in their educational development not only fare better in the classroom but also adopt a stronger passion for learning.

Not surprisingly, teachers that place a strong emphasis on parent involvement routinely see a significant shift in their students' behavior. The more parents are involved in their children's education, the better the motivation, behaviour, and achievement will be for the entire class.

Encouragement of parental involvement is more than a matter of protocol. It's one of the most effective techniques to ensure that every student has a superior learning experience. Let’s learn a little bit more about parental engagement is and how to foster it at your school to establish a community reinforced by parent-teacher interactions.

What Is Parental Engagement?

“Parent Engagement”, according to educational experts, is defined as parents and teachers sharing a responsibility to help their children learn and achieve academic goals. When teachers include parents in school meetings or events, and parents volunteer their support at home and at school, this is known as “parent engagement”. But to have a meaningful parental engagement environment requires commitment from both teachers and parents. Teachers agree to listen to parents and offer an opportunity for collaboration with them, and parents commit to prioritizing their child's educational aspirations.

Even though both are beneficial, parent engagement in schools differs from parent involvement. When parents participate in school events or activities and teachers share learning tools or information on their students' grades, this is known as “parent involvement”. Teachers, unlike the parents in this relationship, maintain the major responsibility for establishing and achieving educational goals. In this scenario, parents serve more as advisors rather than partners, guiding them through academic support for their children.

Parent involvement can be thought of as the initial stage toward parent engagement. While teachers can provide guidance to parents in some areas, parents also have valuable information about their children that teachers may not be aware of. Both can add to a student's learning experience by bringing different perspectives to the table. Without the other, neither is whole.

The Importance of Parental Involvement

Reports show that parental involvement and engagement in school have seen decline. Due to the meaningful role it plays in student success, it is more imperative now than ever for teachers to take steps to nurture both. According to a recent study, the number of parents who believe that close parent-teacher communication is useful has decreased. Additionally, parents are less likely to attend parent-teacher meetings or school activities as they prefer distant methods of communication, such as online student portals. This transition is both rapid and distressing because of the implications for parental participation. While digital tools can help keep families informed, students miss out when their parents do not provide their time and direct support.

The reasons for this shift in parent involvement at school are numerous. Volunteering and attending parent-teacher meetings can be difficult for some parents due to dual-earner work commitments, timing, and/or transportation concerns. Some low-income or minority families believe that school administrative and teaching personnel make them feel uneasy or lack cultural sensitivity. Other factors impact parental involvement among low-income families, families with older children, and parents who do not speak English as their native language or hold a high school degree.

Parent involvement in the classroom is the first move toward parent engagement and, eventually, parent collaboration. The impact on students is enormous when parents and teachers collaborate to create a positive partnership as it fosters a classroom at school and also at home. Students that have involved parents had better attendance, self-esteem, and graduation rates. Connections between parents and teachers are more than just a nice-to-have in the classroom. They are critical in assisting children in reaching their academic potential on a personal and classroom level. If we don't make time and investment in parent involvement in our schools, we limit the ability of our classrooms to grow.

The Link Between Parental Engagement and Student Achievement

Educational experts have discovered a link between parental involvement and educational success in different studies on parental engagement. And the earlier educators engage parents, the more effective they are at improving student achievement. Parent-child partnerships established in elementary school lay a solid basis for student success and future growth.

According to studies, parent involvement reduces chronic absenteeism, which is defined as missing more than twenty days in a school year. Student absences decreased by 20% when teachers engaged with parents through home visits, for instance. Even after factoring in grade level and past absences, students with involved parents miss fewer days of school. Bottom line: Students who have two-way communication with their parents and educators are more likely to attend class on a daily basis and participate more actively in class.

Parents and teachers both gain from parental involvement as much as students do. Teachers can aid parents with homework or academic concepts by preparing them. Engaged parents are more likely to have better relationships with their children's instructors, which boosts teacher morale. Knowing more about a student's home life can also help teachers create courses that are more tailored to the requirements of that student as well as communicate with families more effectively. And, because active parents provide greater support to their children, classrooms with engaged parents do better as a whole.

What Is the Best Time for Parental Involvement?

From the perspective of the parents, as soon as a child starts school, parental involvement should begin! The earlier it is initiated, the more profound and lasting are the results. The ideal way for parents to get involved is for them to accompany their children in their studies at home or when they are doing homework.

However, parental involvement also needs to be supported and encouraged by schools. Educators need to welcome parents to school by incorporating them in decision-making and conducting programs that provide knowledge on the academic process and schedule so that they can more fully participate in their students’ development.