Research on parent engagement over the past decade found that, regardless of income or background, students with engaged parents are more likely to:
— Earn higher grades and test scores.
— Attend school on a regular basis.
— Have better social skills and improved behavior.
— Graduate and go on to post-secondary education.
Who wouldn’t want that for their child?
School-family connections built on relationships, listening, welcoming and shared decision-making can produce multiple benefits for students.
Schools understand all too well the barriers many families face in regards to volunteering at school or fundraising. Parents lead very busy lives and not everyone has the time to be involved at school or in the PTA.
What is most important for families to know? A partnership between school and families is key. Schools want to know about the dreams parents have for their children, and parents need to know there are many ways to help their children at home.
Families can start with the following:
· Create a daily family routine for mornings and bedtime.
· Monitor out-of-school activities, and limit TV and video games on school days.
· Check the school’s website often and read the discipline policy. Reinforce this at home.
· Look over your child’s homework and discuss any teacher comments.
· Check the “Homework Hotline” and help your child plan for upcoming assignments, tests and projects.
· Model the value of hard work and teach your children the importance of being on time and having excellence attendance.
· Set high expectations for grades and hold your kids accountable with realistic consequences and rewards.
· Attend parent-teacher conferences and other school events.
· Share your ideas with the school staff and ask for assistance with helping your child when needed.
· Stay in touch with your child’s teacher through e-mail and phone calls.
· Read with your child every day!
What really matters most is that parents communicate in a positive way about school with their child every day and keep those expectations high.
— Valerie Livingston is principal of Mary A. White Elementary School in Grand Haven.