Students are getting back into the swing of things and working hard in the classroom. Now is the time that parents can play an integral role in helping them get off to a strong start in their new grade, with their new teacher, and, for some students, in their new school.
While parental involvement in education is an important motivator for all students, it’s particularly important in low-income communities and under-resourced schools due to large class sizes and a lack of high-quality learning opportunities. A child could raise his hand 20 times a day in the classroom, but when a teacher is struggling to engage 25 or 30 other students, not everyone will receive the quality attention they need and deserve in school alone.
By building a strong support system in the home, as well as in school and the community, parents can better help position their children for success. A study conducted by the Association for Middle Level Education found that when parents are involved, students show improved academic performance, better attendance, higher graduation rates, and improved self -esteem and motivation.
In high-need schools and communities, parents often work multiple jobs to make ends meet and may not always have the time or resources to engage their children in educational activities. The following concrete ideas are a few ways that parents can help educators struggling with time constraints and a limited budget:
At BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), we strive to make parental involvement a top priority. Once a child – whom we call a “scholar” – is enrolled in our summer learning or after school programs, parents become more involved. The BELL team helps parents understand their child’s educational needs and progress, engage in weekly reading activities, and learn how to best support their child’s education.
The sense of satisfaction BELL parents enjoy after the completion of the program speaks for itself: 92 percent of those surveyed at the end of last year’s BELL After School program reported feeling more engaged in their child’s education, and 98 percent would recommend the program to other parents.
Schools, community-based organizations and others working with students must always keep in mind and reinforce that their lives are constantly shaped by two types of educators – teachers and parents. We have seen firsthand the combined impact they can have on our children’s ability to realize and fulfill their full potential. Increasing parental involvement in a child’s education is a simple and often free activity that can yield positive results.
Dr. Tiffany Cooper Gueye is the CEO of BELL, a national non-profit organization that partners with schools and school districts to deliver high quality out-of-school time programs to underserved youth in grades K-8.
All statements and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and not of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or NBC News.