Column: Importance of family involvement at schoolFebruary 17, 2021
By KELSEY WEBER
Youth First Inc.
Many people gauge levels of student academic success based on teacher status, academic grades or socioeconomic status. However, the real key to student success is none of these. The best indicator for student academic success depends on how involved families are with learning at home and in their child's school.
Families involved in their child's education at home and at school have higher academic achievements than those who do not. Many staff members such as social workers, teachers, counselors and administrators play a vital role in connecting families with their school by encouraging family engagement. Family engagement is not only parent interest in their child's learning; it is a shared responsibility with staff and teachers to meet educational goals and encourage a student's growth.
When families are engaged in their child's school life, kids develop a love of learning that will expand their knowledge base and sense of wonder. When teachers focus on family relationships, they often see change with those children in their classroom. The more teachers involve parents, the more motivation, positive behaviors and good grades increase.
Teachers often encourage parent engagement and involvement by inviting parents to school meetings or events, asking them to volunteer at school or get involved with PTSA, or suggesting parents meet with their child's teacher to set goals and objectives. When parents and teachers commit to this learning atmosphere and work together to help students succeed, this is when we see success and growth.
So, why is parent involvement so important? When school staff establishes relationships with families early on, families will feel more welcome and more willing to be involved in their child's education. If those relationships are not established early on, parents may feel they are not supposed to be part of their child's learning process.
Other factors can create a disconnect between parents and teachers, such as scheduling conflicts, transportation issues and lack of cultural awareness for low-income or minority families. Working together to overcome these obstacles is an essential part of being an active participant in a child's education.
Children with engaged parents are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, graduate from high school and attend post-secondary education, develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom, and have better social skills and classroom behavior. According to waterford.org, children with engaged families are also less likely to struggle with low self-esteem, develop behavioral issues or need redirection from their teacher in the classroom.
So, how can parents become more involved with their child's school life?
• Save contact information for your child's teachers to be sure you can easily address any concerns or questions regarding your child's progress.
• Connect with the school by attending school events, meetings and parent-teacher committees.
• Discuss classroom goals with teachers.
• Be responsive to both positive and negative feedback from teachers about your child's progress.
Teachers can encourage more family involvement in the following ways:
• Give parents your contact information to encourage parents to reach out when needed and establish a strong communication with the teacher.
• Invite parents to connect with the school by sharing school events, meetings and parent-teacher committees.
• Discuss classroom goals with parents.
• Establish a connection with parents in person as much as possible. Communicate often with both positive and negative phone calls, upcoming events and any classroom concerns you may have.
When parents and school staff work together, student academic success grows. By working together and establishing a relationship early on, this creates a positive school and working environment.
Kelsey Weber, LSW, is the Youth First Social Worker for McGary Middle School in Vanderburgh County. Youth First Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families, provides 64 Master's level social workers to 92 schools in 11 Indiana counties. Over 60,000 youth and families per year are served by Youth First's school social work and after school programs that prevent substance abuse, promote healthy behaviors and maximize student success. To learn more about Youth First, visit youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.
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