Much has been written about the need for parents to support their children in order for them to succeed in school. Indeed, a meta-analysis of parental involvement studies conducted by Harvard researchers concluded that:
parental involvement has a significant impact across various populations…not only does voluntary parental involvement have an influence, but parental programs do as well. Therefore, schools should adopt strategies to enhance parental engagement in their children’s schooling… [T]eachers, principals, and school counselors should familiarize themselves with the facets of parental involvement that can help the most, so that they can guide parents on what steps they can take to become more involved. These include time-intensive parental involvement activities such as reading to one’s children and communicating with them, and subtle involvement activities like parental style and expectations. Given the substantial influence of parental involvement, educators should consistently encourage parents to become more involved in their children’s schooling.
However, I am not a professional educator. I am a professional advocate and on the side, I put a tremendous amount of volunteer time into supporting the delivery of high quality education in my son’s school district. Among the ways I do that is by leading the East High Band Parent Group and the Madison Eastside Lakers Blue Line Club, both of which serve to supplement the school district’s limited funds to provide quality music and athletic programs.
In addition to raising funds, these groups also facilitate parental involvement in their children’s education. Recently, the Blue Line Club hosted Parents’ Night between periods at my son’s team’s hockey game. Although we do this every year, as we gathered by the door to the rink at the end of the first period, I started questioning the value of introducing every player and team manager with his or her parents. I knew this was going to take a long time and make a late school night go even later.
But then, I paid closer attention and noticed a few important things;
- Parents who had not attended their child’s game all season were there;
- Divorced and step-parents joined together to celebrate their child; and most important
- Parents of teens who sometimes tussle with each other were smiling from ear to ear.
After all the introductions had been made, we posed for a picture with the magnificent East High Pep Band in the background. There were so many of us that the photographer had to go to the other side of the rink to fit us all in.These are the parents whose involvement are critical to the success of their children. While the Harvard researchers are absolutely right about the need for schools to work hard to involve parents, my own experience leads me to add that parents must also support each other with efforts such as this to facilitate their involvement in each other’s children. As the saying goes,
it takes a village to raise a child.
For more information on how Jeff Spitzer-Resnick can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems contact him through his web site: Systems Change Consulting.