Family Involvement in Education

From an article by the U.S. Department of Education, in North Dakota Pathways, Winter 1999-2000

When parents and families get personally involved in education, their children do better in school and grow up to be more successful in life.

Sounds like common sense, doesn’t it?

Yet parental involvement is one of the most overlooked aspects of American education today. The fact is, many parents don’t realize how important it is to get involved in their children’s learning. As one dad said when he began to read to his daughter every day and discovered that it improved her learning, “I never realized how much it would mean to her to hear me read.” Other parents would like to be involved, but have trouble finding the time.

All parents and family members should try to find the time and make the effort because research shows that when families get involved, their children:

Get better grades and test scores;

Graduate from high school at higher rates;

Are more likely to go on to higher education; and

Are better behaved and have more positive attitudes.

Family involvement is also one of the best investments a family can make. Students who graduate from high school earn, on average, $200,000 more in their lifetime than students who drop out. A college graduate makes almost $1 million more!

Most important, ALL parents and families can enjoy these benefits. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter how much formal education you’ve had yourself or how well you did in school. And family involvement works for children at all grade levels.

What is “Family Involvement in Education”?

Family involvement includes a lot of different types of activities. Some parents and families have time to get involved in many ways; others may only have time for one or two activities. Whatever your level of involvement, remember: if you get involved and stay involved, you can make a world of difference.

“Family Involvement in Education” can mean:

Reading a bedtime story to your preschool child

Checking homework every night

Getting involved in PTA

Discussing your child’s progress with teachers

Voting in school board elections

Helping your school to set challenging academic standards

Limiting TV viewing to no more than two hours on school nights

Getting personally involved in governing your school

Becoming an advocate for better education in your community and state

Insisting on high standards of behavior for children

Or, family involvement can be as simple as asking your child, “How was school today?” But ask every day. That will send them the clear message that their schoolwork is important to you and you expect them to learn.

Many children and parents are yearning for this kind of togetherness these days. Among students aged 10 to 13, for example, 72 percent say they would like to talk to their parents more about their homework. Forty percent of parents across the country believe that they are not devoting enough time to their children’s education. And teachers say that increasing parental involvement in education should be the number one priority for public education in the next few years.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Child’s Education

Read together

Children who read at home with their parents perform better in school. Show your kids how much you value reading by keeping good books, magazines, and newspapers in the house. Let them see you read. Take them on trips to the library and encourage them to get library cards. Let children read to you, and talk about the books. What was the book about? Why did a character act that way? What will he or she do next?

Use TV wisely

Academic achievement drop sharply for children who watch more than ten hours of television a week, or an average or more than two hours a day. Parents can limit the amount of viewing and help children select educational programs. Parents can also watch and discuss shows with their kids. This will help children understand how stories are structured.

Establish a daily family routine with scheduled homework time

Studies show that successful students have parents who create and maintain family routines. Make sure your child goes to school every day. Establish a regular time for homework each afternoon or evening, set aside a quiet, well lit place, and encourage children to study.