A child's learning is enhanced when schools encourage parents to stimulate their children's intellectual development. Numerous studies have shown that the home environment has a powerful effect on what children and youth learn, not only in school but outside of school as well. This environment is considerably more powerful than the parents' income and education in influencing what children learn in the first six years of life and during the twelve years of primary and secondary education. One major reason that parental influence is so strong, is because the children spend more than ninety percent of their time from infancy throughout their childhood outside school under the influence of their parents. Therefore, ultimately the parents are their first and most important teacher. (Weinstein & Walberg, 1983, Peng & Wright, 1994, Walberg & Paik, 1997)
When children achieve, everyone benefit. As children excel, the school is recognized, the teachers are recognized and the parents and other family members of those children are encouraged to extend their knowledge by going back to school.
Parent involvement is a valuable component of any student's education. It is a well-established fact that parental involvement is linked to children's success at school. When parents are involved in their children's education at home, they do better in school. (Henderson and Berla, 1994). The level of parent-school involvement is a better predictor of grades than are standardized test scores. (Desimone, 1999). The 12 years of 180 six-hour days spent in school add up to only 13 % of a student's waking, learning time during the first 18 years of life. The rest, 87% is spent out of school, primarily at home. (Walberg). What is important is not the type of school, or who goes there, but the quality of its relationship with the families. (Henderson, Anne T.and Berla, Nancy, 1994).
Research indicates that there are positive academic outcomes stemming from parental involvement with benefits beginning in early childhood, throughout adolescence and beyond. (Henderson and Mapp, 2002; Patrikakou, Weisberg, Redding, and Walberg, 2005).
Henderson and Berla (1994) in an article A New generation of Evidence, state that the family is critical to student achievement. When parents are involved in school, children go farther in school and the schools they go to are better. There is a strong correlation between parental involvement and increased academic achievement.
According to Adams and Christenson in 1999, "...the alliance between home and school has dramatically changed throughout the history of formal education, as have the roles and functions that parents and teachers are expected to fulfill" (p. 477). Throughout time, parents have been "portrayed as both friend and foe in the course of educational reform" (Peressini, 1998, p.571). Historically, parental involvement wasn't always a welcomed addition to the school community, and even today some view parent-school relations as a power struggle (Peressini, 1998). Shaver and Walls, (1998) reported that some research found little to no effect of parental involvement on school achievement for middle age students. For the most part however, teachers and administrators welcome a helping hand in the overcrowded classrooms of the public schools and agree that parental involvement is one way to bridge reading comprehension gaps. Today, it is widely recognized that parents play an essential role in their children's school life. Numerous types of parental involvement have been shown to develop cognitive growth and success in school (Shaver and Walls, 1998). Schools are working hand in hand with parents, Alldred and Edwards (2000), describe parents and schools as policy makers with similar functions when it comes to children.
Research indicates that there are positive academic outcomes stemming from parental involvement with benefits beginning in early childhood, throughout adolescence and beyond (Henderson and Mapp, 2002; Patrikakou, Weisberg, Redding, and Walberg, 2005). Shaver and Walls, (1998), are also in support, they point out that the connection between parents and school achievement is real.
The Epstein case studies is another research that supports parent involvement. Epstein (2002), used the Comprehensive School Reform Model (CSR) demonstrates how collaborative work produces positive outcomes. These studies were conducted in certain states, in selected school within the school districts. Educators, parents and community partners worked collaboratively on action teams to plan the curriculum. The programs are evaluated before being implemented in order to assess how well the plans connected family and school-community involvement.
Henderson and Berla (1994) in an article "A New generation of Evidence", state that the family is critical to student achievement. When parents are involved in school, children go farther in school and the schools they go to are better. "Regardless of socioeconomic status or race, studies show a direct correlation between parental involvement and a child's academic achievement (Baumrind, 1991; Walberg, 1984; Wentzel 1994; Williams 1994).
Parent involvement in learning activity is a strategy that was found by Becker and Epstein (1982) to increase the educational effectiveness of the time that parents and children spend together at home. Teachers and parents agree on the involvement of parents, seventy one percent of principals and fifty nine percent of teachers called it a priority based on research conducted by. Those schools whose parental involvement is strong provide a lot of benefit to the students. " How Strong Communication Contributes to Student and School Success: Parent and Family Involvement" shows that improved parental involvement not only leads to higher academic achievement, but to better attendance and improved behavior at home and school as well. When school and home work together collaboratively, and using a competent approach to education, it can make a huge difference in student achievement (Padgett 2006). The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) suggests that a formal policy be created. Lack of planning was seen as one of the most challenging aspects to more involvement.
Walberg on "Families in Educational Productivity" states that there is no question that parent involvement represents an exceptionally powerful way of making schools more effective, and of dramatically enriching children's experiences. Some research indicates that achievement among students in elementary and secondary schools have identified theories and policies which play significant roles in parent involvement in education (Fan and Chen, 2001; Hill and Chao; Seginer, 2006). These theories and policies not only closed the education gap in terms of demographics they also maximize student potential. Parent involvement is so important that The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB; 2002) is a Federal Policy that puts a mandate on parental involvement in education and family-school relations across elementary and secondary school levels. However, despite the consensus about how important it is for family and school to work together across developmental stages, theories of parent involvement in education have been based on the elementary school students in their context and do not focus on the changes that occur with middle school and early adolescent development (Hill and Taylor, 2004; Hill, Tyson, and Bromell, 2009). The Title 1 program (aka Chapter 1) is also a government mandated program developed to increase parent involvement and educational services for disadvantaged children. This program placed the emphasis on parental involvement as the primary means of improving the quality of education of low income children (Kim O. Yap and Donald Y. Enoki 1995).
One may ask the question why should parents become involved in their children's literacy activities? The evidence about the benefits of parents being involved in their children's education in general and literacy activities in particular is overwhelming. (Fan and Chen 2001) in their meta-analysis found that parental involvement positively affects academic performance. Feinstein & Symons, 1999 point out in their research that parental involvement leads to higher academic achievement.
Epstein's framework of six types of involvement are as follows: parenting which help all families establish home environments to support children as students; Communicating from home to school and school to home about school programs and student progress; Volunteering by organizing parent help and support. Learning at home by providing information and ideas from families about how to help students at home with homework and other curriculum-related activities; decisions and planning; Parents should be included in decision making; involve parent leaders and representatives; Collaborating with the community by identifying and integrating resources and services from the community to strengthen school programs, family practices, and student learning and development.
Students value their education when they see the interest shown by their parents. Domina, and Knipprath, (2005), highlight the fact that government supports parental involvement.
Epstein (1987) found that schools also affect parent involvement levels and evidence shows that parents want to become involved but are not allowed to have open communication with the school. Conventional avenues for involving parents in school can be closed to parents due to specific cultural knowledge. Parents have a lot of difficulty adapting to the school culture especially in non English speaking communities, but cultural knowledge is power and it can prevent parents from participating fully.
Sheldon (2002) highlighted minimal resources parents acquire through social networks as one reason parents are less involved in their children's education. Another is the educational level of the parents can present a barrier to the school involvement, Stevenson and Baker (1987). The parents with more education are actively involved in Parent Teacher Association meetings and conferences. The involvement decreases as the students move from elementary to middle school because parents are less knowledgeable in some of the academic subjects. Eccles and Harold (1993) found that less educated parents shift their attention away from school because they feel inadequate to help their children with homework. The quality of parental involvement makes all the difference according to Gail A. Zellman, 1998. We need to understand the underlying relationship between parent and child that supports children's achievement and positive educational outcomes overall. A parent's enthusiasm about education is, in most instances the underlying factor that contributes the child's academic success. "Parent involvement programs might be more effective if they focus on such underlying constructs."
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