One group of researchers defined parent involvement as parent participation in educational activities at both school and home (Christenson, Rounds, & Gorney, 1992).
Researchers and practitioners have long acknowledged a strong link between parent involvement and children’s success in school. Studies conducted over the last 30 years have identified a relationship between parent involvement and increased student achievement, enhanced self-esteem, improved behavior, and better school attendance.
Research also shows that “what families do” to support children’s learning accounted for more than “who families are” (e.g., socioeconomic status, parent educational level, ethnic background) in achievement variation (Walberg, 1984; White, 1982; Epstein, 1991; Christenson, Round, & Gorney, 1992).
Characteristics of parent involvement that are related to academic achievementThere are many ways that parents can contribute to their child’s learning and academic success. In this section, we describe types of involvement that have been specifically linked to children’s academic achievement.
- Realistic, high parent expectations for children’s school performance are associated with positive academic performance.
- Children who come from home environments that support learning and provide structure tend to get higher grades and perform better on achievement tests.
- A positive parent-child relationship is related to academic success.
- Authoritative parenting is positively associated with student achievement.
- Academic gains are the greatest when there is consistency between home and school.
- Achievement gains are most significant and long-lasting when parent involvement begins at an early age.
Strategies to increase parent involvement
Research has shown that parents are more likely to be actively involved in their child’s education if they perceive that schools have strong parent outreach programs. When parents believe that their child’s teachers are doing many things to get them involved in Achievement Plus Wilder Research Center their child’s education, they tend to become more involved in the educational process (Dauber & Esptein, 1993).
The League of Schools Project identified principles of an effective home-school partnership (Davies, 1991). They are, as follows:
- Every aspect of the school building and general climate is open, helpful, and friendly to parents. It is important to develop trust between school staff and parents.
- Communications with parents – whether about school policies and programs or about their own children – are frequent, clear, and two-way.
- Parents are treated by teachers as collaborators in the educational process. Parents’ own knowledge, expertise, and resources are valued as essential to their child’s success in school.
- The school recognizes its responsibility to forge a partnership with all families in the school, not simply those most easily available.
- The school principal and other administrators actively express in words and deeds the philosophy of partnership with all families.
- The school encourages volunteer support and help from all parents by providing a wide variety of volunteer opportunities including those that can be done from home and during non-work hours.
- The school provides opportunities for parents to meet their own needs for information, advice, and peer support.
- Parents’ views and expertise are sought in developing policies and solving schoolwide problems; in some schools parents are given important decision-making opportunities at a policy level.
- Schools recognize that they can best help parents provide a home environment conducive to children’s learning if they facilitate their access to basic and supportive services.