Herald Journal Columns
Sept. 5, 2005, Herald Journal

Parental involvment key in child’s education


During the course of a calendar year, only 14 percent of a student’s time is spent in school.

The National Education Association’s website noted that any effort to improve student learning and performance must recognize the importance of a student’s life outside of school and the importance and need for that life to be healthy and supportive. (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. No Dream Denied: A Pledge to America’s Children, Jan, 2003).

To be effective, schools need the help and support of parents and the community, as the saying goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” It is important that everyone work together for children to be successful in school (and in all aspects of life). Parents play a major role in their child’s education.

The website, www.nea/org/parents states that in study after study, research has shown, and continues to show, how important it is for parents to be actively involved in their child’s education. Some of the findings of major research include:

• A home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than income, education level, or cultural background.

• When parents are involved in their children’s education at home, they do better in school. And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school – and the schools they go to are better.

• Three kinds of parental involvement at home are consistently associated with higher student achievement: actively organizing and monitoring a child’s time, discussing school matters, and helping with homework.

• The earlier that parental involvement begins in a child’s education, the more powerful the effects.

• When parents and children talk regularly and consistently about school, children perform better academically.

• Positive results of parental involvement include improved student achievement, improved student behavior, decreased absenteeism, and confidence among parents in their children’s schooling.

• Reading achievement is more dependent on learning activities in the home than is science or math. Reading aloud to children is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading success. Engaging in discussions with children about stories and books read to them also supports reading achievement.

The National Education Association also conveys on its website that children need to have access to reading materials and should be encouraged to read at home.

Students who live in households with encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, and more than 25 books score higher on NAEP writing and NAEP reading tests. However, only 34 percent of fourth graders, 51 percent of eighth graders, and 53 percent of 12th graders in the United States report having all of these materials at home. (National Center for Education Statistics. Nation’s Report Card: 4th Grade Reading 2000. April 2001; National Center for Education Statistics. Nation’s Report Card: Writing 2002. July 2003.)

Bedtime routines

With school in session, comes the need for many routines, including earlier bedtimes.

Many school-aged children were in the habit of enjoying the longer days and getting up a little later. With the importance of getting enough sleep, big and little kids now need to “hit the hay” earlier to be ready for school in the morning.

To help children follow an earlier bedtime schedule, setting some bedtime rituals may help them “get in the routine” easier. Start a routine, for example, of brushing teeth and reading together, or implement a cue, such as a song, prayer, funny quote, joke-of-the-day, or a song, that signifies to children it is “time for bed.”

Whatever the ritual or routine, make it consistent.

Lunch box and school bag connections

A fun way to stay connected with your children during the school day is to place little notes in their lunch boxes or school bags.

The note could contain some type of sentiment from you to them, the start of a tic-tac-toe game that can continue until finished, or a knock-knock joke that can progress daily until it is finished. It is a fun way to let your children know that they are important and you are thinking of them at all times of the day.

An after school or weekend craft activity

The bees are back and it’s important to try and avoid those bee stings (especially if one is allergic to the stings), but creating these simple bee prints won’t give a “sting” at all, just a little simple fun!

You will need an ink pad, construction paper, and crayons or markers. Create the bees using a thumb print for the body of the bee, by pressing thumb into the ink pad and then onto a piece of paper.

Using a crayon or marker, draw a smaller circle for the head (or use your pinky finger and stamp it on) and two small antennas. Then draw two half circles to the side of the thumb print for the wings.

Color in some yellow rings (or whatever color you like if you want a different colored bee) to finish off the bumble bee.

One can also create other bugs and creatures, such as a caterpillar, a butterfly, an ant, etc. using “inked” fingerprints, crayons, paper, and imagination. Have fun!

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“A well-spent day brings happy sleep.”

– Leonardo da Vinci