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Opinion Article: Parental Involvement Makes a Difference!

April 14, 2000

The following opinion article was written by Sheila M. Hamilton of Shepherdstown, a member of the West Virginia Board of Education.  

This article has been mailed to newspapers throughout West Virginia:  

 

Show me a student who is doing well in school and I’ll show you a child whose parent or parents are interested and involved in that child’s education and upbringing.  

Numerous studies have shown that parental involvement is the single most significant factor contributing to a child’s academic success. This same research also shows that positive parental involvement decreases student dropout, delinquency and pregnancy rates.  

“A New Generation of Evidence: The Family is Critical to Student Achievement,” provides summaries and findings for many of these studies. In this 1994 compilation, numerous studies are cited showing that “children with high achievement scores have parents who have high expectations for them, who respond to and interact with them frequently, and who see themselves as ‘teachers’ of their children.”  

Unfortunately, the average day for most families is much different than it was just one generation ago. Family members spend considerably less time together as a unit, and it’s getting worse. Recent studies suggest that American workers are spending more hours on the job – more than employees in any other industrialized nation.  

As parents, we must realize that our number one priority has to be our children. Although we’re extremely busy trying to support our families and meet the demands of the workplace, we cannot overlook the tremendous impact we have as parents.  

We can make a difference by:  

- knowing how much homework our children have every day and ensuring that they complete it,  

- discussing our children’s progress with teachers,  

- making sure that our children have sufficient sleep so that they’re alert in school,  

- ensuring that our children have a nutritious breakfast to start the day,  

- providing maps, dictionaries and other resource materials,  

- making sure that our children get exercise daily,  

- praising our children for effort as well as achievement,  

- attending extra-curricular activities,  

- spending quality one-on-one time with our children every week,  

- monitoring the amount of time our children watch television or play video games,  

- reading to our children when they’re young and encouraging them to read when they’re older,  

- teaching our children to respect teachers and other adults,  

- setting high expectations,  

- being involved in activities (PTO, band boosters, etc.) that support our schools, and  

- communicating the importance of education to our children.  

Fortunately for busy parents, many of the things we can do to make a difference require just a few minutes each day, cost little if any money, and don’t force us to choose between work and children.  

Being a parent isn’t easy, but it’s the most important responsibility we’ll ever have. When we look in the mirror, we as parents are staring at the person most responsible for our children’s academic success, attitude and behavior.  

Teachers and public schools play a vital role in our children’s academic success, but it is up to us to construct and reinforce a solid foundation of respect, high expectations, love and encouragement.  

That’s our job as parents.

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