It’s back-to-school time, a time when parents need to introduce themselves to the most important people in their children’s education. To do so, they should start by looking in the mirror.
We spend great amounts of time and energy in our society worrying about teachers. Are our teachers properly trained? Are they compensated properly? Are they really helping our children make progress? All valid questions, but even the most highly trained, committed and engaged teachers can’t do much if parents aren’t setting the right tone and creating a positive home environment for education. On the flip side, even an average teacher can be highly effective if his or her students come to class with active family support.
Reams of research affirm the idea that parental involvement is an extremely powerful factor in a child’s learning. According to the Michigan Department of Education, family participation in education is twice as predictive of students’ academic success as family socioeconomic status.
Effective parental involvement doesn’t mean serving as an at-home tutor. There’s great value in sitting down with a child to help him or her with homework, but you don’t need to be well versed in algebra, understand the laws of thermodynamics or be able to explain recurring themes in American literature to be an involved parent. A parent’s most important role is in providing support and motivation. That starts with parents demonstrating that they place a high value on education. Parents show that by attending back-to-school nights and teacher conferences and, when possible, volunteering at school. When children see parents treating school as a priority activity, children are more likely to do so as well.
Providing the right home environment is critical, too. That means not only creating a quiet, comfortable space for homework and reading, but limits on the use of entertainment and social media technology. That can obviously be a challenge with eye-rolling teenagers who are used to being constantly wired, but, again, it’s imperative for parents to signal priorities. As educational speaker and author Lourdes Ferrer told West Ottawa parents in a presentation last week, “When it comes to your children’s education, you have to sit in the driver’s seat.”
It’s popular these days to heap criticism on our schools and point out how American students lag their peers abroad in academic achievement. If we, as parents, were really honest with ourselves, though, we would direct some of that criticism toward ourselves, because teachers can only achieve so much if the children we send to school are unmotivated and unsupported students and return home to an environment that doesn’t prioritize learning. Teachers in charters, private and elite public schools with high test scores aren’t necessarily any better than those who toil in big city public schools, but they typically enjoy a great advantage in terms of their students’ parental support. Highly trained teachers and advanced technology are great, but they only go so far. Parents must realize that education is too important to be left solely to our schools.
Source: HollandSentinel.com - http://goo.gl/6cgYHP