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Tools for Parents

Tools for Parents

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 do not 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 and graduate from high school at higher rates.
  • Are more likely to go on to higher education.
  • 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 lifetimes than students who drop out. A college graduate makes almost $1 million more!

Most importantly, all parents and families can enjoy these benefits. It does not matter how much money you have. It does not matter how much formal education you have 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?

It is a lot of different types of activities. Some parents and families may have the time to get involved in many ways. Other may only have the time for one or two activities. But whatever your level of involvement, remember: if you get involved and stay involved, you can make a world of difference.

Family involvement in education means:

Reading a bedtime story to your preschool child
Checking homework every night
Getting involved in PTA
Discussing your children'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 children, "How was school today?" But ask every day. That will send your children 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.