Research shows that parents have a major influence on a child's achievement. According to a handout prepared by the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), when parents are involved, regardless of income or background, children are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, enroll in higher-level programs, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, graduate, and go on to postsecondary education.
Essential to achieving meaningful parental engagement is the parent-school-community partnership. The PTA, working with leading experts on parental involvement, developed and recently updated their six national standards that focus on what parents, schools, and communities can do together to support student success. These standards are: Welcoming All Families, Communicating Effectively, Supporting Student Success, Speaking Up for Every Child, Sharing Power, and Collaborating with the Community.
Most often, a result of a strong parent-school-community partnership is increased parent involvement at home. Two particular key practices that the PTA identified as supportive of learning are:
1) Modeling the value of learning, and
2) Expressing high but realistic expectations for achievement. The first practice sets an example for learning and the latter encourages learning and helps children develop self-efficacy. Here are some specific ways parents can support their children at home:
Model the Value of Learning:
- Set an example by reading at home and engaging in other learning activities
- Play games together that require planning ahead and problem solving (e.g., Scrabble, Dominoes), rather than pure luck (e.g., The Game of Life)
- Communicate openly
- Express High but Realistic Expectations for Achievement:
- Encourage your child to work hard in school
- Regularly discuss education, careers, life skills, and interests
- Regularly affirm your child's personal worth through positive messages
Other Resources from the Federation for Children with Special Needs:
Contributed by Roxanne Hoke-Chandler, Massachusetts PIRC @ FCSN and Kim Hunt, President, Massachusetts PTA, at the 2009 Federation for Children with Special Needs' Vision of Community conference.