What Kind of Parent Involvement Helps Children the Most?

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            In this American School Board Journal article, Patte Barth, director of the Center for Public Education, reports on a new National School Boards Association study of parent involvement. Researchers found that the practices most likely to produce higher student achievement take place at home:

-   Monitoring homework;

-   Making sure children get to school;

-   Rewarding their efforts;

-   Talking up the idea of going to college.

These parent actions are linked to better attendance, grades, test scores, and preparation for college.

            What can schools do to foster the most effective at-home activity? Barth says successful schools create activities and materials that require family involvement with children. One example is the TIPS program – Teachers Involving Parents in Schoolwork – developed at Johns Hopkins University, which has created interactive homework assignments that students complete with their families. The take-home work is designed to take the minimum of time in busy homes and not depend on special knowledge or skills.

            The study found that getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending PTA and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fundraising, and showing up at back-to-school nights. Interestingly, white and more affluent parents were more likely to be involved in these conventional activities, while African-American, Hispanic, and low-income parents were slightly more likely to check homework and be active at home. “Schools need to recognize that parents are engaged and want their children to do well,” she says, “even if they do not appear inside the school building.”

 

“Research: What Can Parents Do?” by Patte Barth in American School Board Journal, November 2011 (Vol. 198, #11, p. 32-33), http://www.asbj.com; Barth can be reached at pbarth@nsba.org