Parental involvement has long been touted by educational experts as a way to boost student performance in school.
A new report by the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education backs up that theory. The center studied the research and compiled findings that point toward simple engagement strategies that can help advance student learning.
"Families working in close partnership with teachers can have a measurable impact on their child’s academic achievement, particularly when they are focused on helping students do well in school," said Patte Barth, director of the center. "While parent involvement is no substitute for good classroom instruction, it can make the job much easier for everyone—teachers, parents, guardians, and students themselves."
What's the best way to get involved? Attend PTA meetings? Organize enrichment programs? Email your child's teacher frequently? The report suggests supporting learning at home—monitoring homework, for example—as a place to start. Patch surveyed local school administrators for some additional suggestions.
1. Ask pointed questions and solicit feedback about their day
, principal at , had suggestions on how to engage younger children in talking about their school days.
“The best way for parents to be involved in their children's education is to ask their children about their day. It isn't enough to ask 'how was school?' Ask them about the main ideas of a story they read, or to show you how they worked out a math problem," she said. "Ask them to describe playground interactions and how they worked in a group that day. Show your interest each day and let them know you care about what they are learning in school.”
2. Be present for important school events
Joel Adelberg, principal at , said that there is a misconception that parents of high school students should become less involved as they help their teenagers get ready for college.
“Parents always say to me that they are not going to be there when their kids are in college, but I say to them, ‘well, we’re not there yet.’ My message to parents is that the stakes are even higher in high school and parents need to stay involved,” Adelberg said.
Adelberg said that involvement at school means being present for school functions including back to school night and parent teacher conference. Supporting extracurricular activities such as plays, concerts and sports are important.
3. Stay informed
Many schools use teacher websites, school websites and e-newsletters to keep parents informed—use them to learn about all that is happening at your child's school.
Adelberg also suggested parents stay on top of what their teenagers are up to, what they are learning, and what they are reading. “Our students study relevant topics. They are capable of interesting and engaging conversations,” he said.
4. Help your kids come to school ready to learn
Parents can do much to make sure their kids arrive at school ready to learn, said Kate Branch, a school nurse at
"Providing a healthy breakfast every morning, ensuring nine to 10 hours of sleep each night and minimizing screen time are basic things you can to to help," said Branch.
Packing healthy snacks and lunch and reminding kids to wash their hands can help prevent them from catching viruses floating around. Minimizing screen time doesn't hurt, and for the little ones, Branch recommended teaching kids to tie their shoes, which may be forgotten in a shoe market crowded with velcro.
6. Keep communicating
One of the six types of parent involvement cited in the report was communication, where parents are kept up-to-date with their child's progress and given opportunities to communicate with the school.
Local educators agreed and all mentioned keeping in close contact with your child’s teachers, guidance counselor, and, when necessary, principal.
For more information on the report and to download a copy, visit The Center for Public Education.