Our Opinion: Parents and teachers need to work together


All across our readership area, many parents are breathing a collective sigh of relief now that the kids are back in school.

We all love our children and we cherish time spent with them during the carefree days of summer vacation, but let's face it, by the end of August we're ready for them to go back to school.

We can now return to some semblance of a normal routine, and get back to those chores and projects that were put on hold all summer. But more than that, we no longer have to constantly rack our brains thinking of ways to keep them from getting bored. It's now up to the teachers to deal with that particular challenge.

That's not to say, however, that parents don't still bear some responsibility. In order for teachers to help students reach their full academic potential, they need the full support of the parents.

As reported in Science Daily, research from the University of New Hampshire shows that students do much better in school when their parents are actively involved in their education.

"Parental effort is consistently associated with higher levels of achievement, and the magnitude of the effect of parental effort is substantial," said researcher Karen Smith Conway, professor of economics at the University of New Hampshire. "We found that schools would need to increase per-pupil spending by more than $1,000 in order to achieve the same results that are gained with parental involvement."

The positive results of parental involvement in their children's schooling include improved achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored parental confidence in their children's schooling, according to the Institute for Responsive Education. Moreover, the earlier this involvement begins, the more profound the results and the longer lasting the effects.

When families are involved in their children's education in positive ways, children achieve higher grades and test scores, complete more homework assignments, demonstrate more positive attitudes and behavior, graduate at higher rates, and have greater enrollment in higher education. Parental involvement with older children extends these benefits beyond schooling into later life and career decisions, according to the Institute.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress support these findings. Three factors over which parents can exercise authority -- student absenteeism, the variety of reading materials in the home, and excessive television watching -- account for nearly 90 percent of the difference in the average state-by-state performance of eighth-graders' mathematics test scores among 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Each family can contribute to the school by working together as a team with the faculty and staff for the enhancement of your child's education; volunteering to chaperone field trips or help in the classroom; attending parent teacher conferences and presentations; and being consistent with providing homework support as needed.

Parent/teacher groups serve as a communication link between the school and the community in order to promote a positive school/community relationship that will enhance the children's educational environment and experience. They help enhance educational outcomes of the school by fostering support for the schools' educational objectives, and they enhance the educational facilities and opportunities for students that are not otherwise provided for in the school budgets.

Helping your children with their homework is especially important because it provides time for newly learned skills, allows parents and guardians to observe and assist in student work, and extends a student's thinking beyond the immediate learning of class. In fact, when determining what types of involvement work best, the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory found one common factor: "Programs and interventions that engage families in supporting their children's learning at home are linked to higher student achievement."

The bottom line is, students' families are a valuable and integral part of the education process. Parents who are committed to working together with the school and the community at large guarantee the success of their children in school and beyond.


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