Student achievement can be improved with parental involvement. There are numerous studies that support this assertion. It is of vital importance to student success. Fiore (2001) expounds by saying that parental involvement is a major component in the creation of positive school culture. He added that the creation of positive school culture can initiate a process that will result in a more cooperative relationship between parents and school personnel. Another byproduct of parental involvement is the transformation of parent’s outlook. This makes them more supportive of the school and its program even if problems are encountered along the way. This review of literature will investigate parental involvement as a contributing factor to student achievement.
Benefits of Parental Involvement
Parental involvement is not only about parent-child interaction but also involves the creation of healthy relationships between parents and teachers. Parental involvement helps in the creation of positive school culture that in turn creates a positive effect on student achievement. Fiore (2001) remarked that when parents are strongly linked with the school’s culture, when their involvement is regular, ordinary, and expected one can also be assured that student achievement can be positively affected.
Parents can show their cooperation by helping teachers achieve academic goals. It is no longer enough to rely only on the academic institution for their child’s education. In this new paradigm, they must get involved with regard to their child’s education. Kruse (2009) argued that direct parental involvement can be seen in the way parents monitor homework for completion and accuracy. Cooperation multiplies strengths and eliminates weaknesses. As parents and teachers collaborate they can effectively evaluate the problem of the child and therefore be able to make adjustments more quickly and appropriately.
According to Fiore (2001), students can have problems at school that teachers may never be able to solve. There are problems that require the intervention of family members. In some instances, the lackluster performance of the student is linked to emotional problems. This may be the direct result of personal problems at home. In this case, the teacher can only do so much to help. What is required is a change in behavior from other family members (Kruse, 2009). In an environment where there is cooperation and teamwork, between parents and teachers, these problems can be addressed immediately.
In this regard, de Carvalho (2001) pointed out three major instances when parents show their full support: a) when parents provide a special place in the home for study; b) when parents encourage their child daily through discussions; and c) when parents attend to student’s progress and compliment him/her on gains. There is no other feature of parental involvement that can create more positive results than in the demonstration of full support by the parents to their children’s education. According to one report, “High school students (ages 14-18 years) whose parents read to them during early childhood and set aside a special location for their children to study also demonstrated higher educational attainment than their peers” (Hoghughi & Long, 2004). By reading to them the parents communicate beyond words how they care for their children.
Furthermore, the child is aware whether his or her parents are serious about education and their involvement will encourage the student to work harder. The parent who reads to his or her child demonstrates personal values that will allow the child to understand in a deeper way that their education is very important for their parents. According to Fiore (2001), they will appreciate its value and come to realize that it must be taken seriously. The parents who did not involve themselves in their child’s education will send a negative signal to the child that education is not something that they should be serious about.
Furthermore, parental involvement will create two-way communication between parent and child as well as parent and the school. Parental involvement is initiated by the parents and when they do, a culture can be developed where parents, teachers, and students interact to improve the learning capability of students. Two-way communication between parent and child as well as parent and the educational institution can be expressed in different ways (Teddie & Reynolds, 2000). One obvious example is when parents exert great effort in knowing the education program of the school and the goals that are set by school personnel according to each level of development.
In this regard, de Carvalho pointed out the necessity of schools promoting partnerships with parents (2001). This can be achieved if each State will develop policies to assist local schools and local educational agencies to establish programs that will respond to the needs of parent and child (de Carvhalho, 2001). Thus, it is clear that while parents must be enthusiastic about such programs, there must be two-way communication between the school and the parents. Although, Kruse (2009) warns that, only school administrators who see parent engagement as a priority will risk this effort.
Barriers that Impede Parental Involvement
Parental involvement is a commitment on the part of the parents to be immersed in the school community. According to Longo, “Learning takes buy-in from parents” (2007). There must be active participation and a half-hearted involvement will not suffice. There must be an eagerness to communicate to the child and to the educational institution. There must be close monitoring of progress as well.
While the need for parental involvement is already a well-documented fact there are still many obstacles that hinder this kind of participation from parents. One reason is that there is little research focused on the effect of class and cultural mismatch in the classrooms especially when it comes to free time, money, cultural resources, and social networks (de Carvalho, 2001). Moreover, Kruse (2009) added that it is easier said than done considering that there are differences in language and professional codes that need to be negotiated.
When mother and father are working full-time jobs it can be expected that there is not enough time and energy for the necessary task of monitoring their child’s learning activities. Fiore (2001) was able to put it succinctly when he said that it is already normal to see the employment of the working mother pursuing careers out of economic necessity. This is especially true for poor families struggling to “make ends meet” (Ginwright, 2004). It is therefore difficult to expect poor families to be able to spend quality time with their children.
In communities where the mother and father are drug users or living the life of criminal parental involvement is expected to be non-existent. This prompted Ginwright (2004) to remark that the lack of parental involvement is the result of a complex relationship between economic variables like unemployment and social conditions like drug use. For the middle class-families, money sometimes is not the most important factor but the commitment to get involved in school programs relating to parent participation. Poor parents may be forced to work long hours to earn enough money to support their families (Hoghughi & Long, 2004). Parents of rich children can be too busy making money and forget about the importance of parental involvement in their children’s education.
Based on the literature reviewed parental involvement may significantly improve student achievement. Realizing that there are barriers that impede parental involvement it is important for the State, school administrators, and the parents to work together and come up with programs to increase parental involvement (Ginwright, 2004). Increasing two-way communication between parents and school personnel will greatly enhance the positive impact of parental involvement.
De Carvalho, M. (2001). Rethinking Family-School Relations: A Critique of Parental Involvement in Schooling. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Fiore, D. (2001). Creating Connections for Better Schools: How Leaders Enhance School Culture. New York: Eye on Education, Inc., 2001.
Ginwright, S. (2004). Black in School: Afrocentric Reform, Urban Youth & Promise of Hip-Hop Culture. New York: Teachers College Press.
Hoghughi, M. N. Long. (2004). Hanbook of Parenting: Theory and Research for Practice. CA: Sage Publications.
Kruse, Sharon (2009). Building Strong School Cultures: A Guide to Leading Change. CA: Corwin Press.
Longo, N. (2007). Why Community Matters: Connecting Education with Civic Live. New York: State University of New York.
Teddie, C. & D. Reynolds. (2000). The International Handbook of School Effectiveness Research. New York: Falmer Press.