The Impact of Parental Engagement on Academic Achievement
Most parents would intrinsically understand that parental engagement is good for their children’s development. It may also seem obvious that a lack of engagement, as well as over-engagement, is not so good.
In other words, parents need to find a balance between being actively involved in their children’s education and backing off where necessary. However, with all the demands of a modern lifestyle, it may sometimes seem easier to let the teaching professionals handle our children’s education. Of course, backing off completely isn’t the answer either.
Whether your children attend government or private schools; whether they go to after-school care, have an au pair or a grandmother waiting for them at home; they still need you – their parents. Evidence shows that supportive parenting is key to helping children to live up to their full potential (Jeynes, 2011). In fact, according Stipek and Seal (2014), the influence of parental involvement in the cognitive and emotional development of preschool aged children is a major predictor of college attendance and graduation. Thus, in order to function at their best, children need to know that they are important and that, even at the end of your long, exhausting day, they can come to you for help with their school work.
It is vital that such a relationship between parents and children is developed and maintained from an early age. Reading to one’s children from an early age promotes strong parent-child relationships. Recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics, it also strengthens language skills and literacy development. Evidence of reading proficiency by the third grade is not only a significant predictor of high school graduation, but also of career success (O’Keefe, 2014).
The attitude that parents convey to their children about education during out-of-school hours, can positively contribute to their children’s academic achievement. For instance, as one’s children mature, parents can initiate discussions around their value for education and their expectations for achievement; what occupational aspirations their children have; various learning strategies; and, how to make preparations and plans for the future by relating material discussed at school to their children’s interests and goals (Tyson & Hill, 2009). With a bit of thought and planning, parents can provide an educationally supportive home environment, where the interest shown in their children breeds success in the school environment.
Due to the demands of modern living, however, parents may be left with little energy to concentrate on building the positive relationship required to assist one’s children’s with their academic development. To make up for this, we often provide them with all the up-to-the-minute electronic gadgets such as iPods, iPads and Smart phones. The truth is that it would be better to help them with our time and by discussing their school work.
On the other side of the coin, parents who themselves lack a good education, may impede their children’s academic achievement by adopting too directive an approach. Such parents may be so determined that their children will have a good education that they become harsh task masters. In addition, we may not all be able to solve our children’s homework problems – but, neither should we try. Rather, we can better help them by assisting them to solve problems themselves. The ultimate goal is to guide our children so that they become creative, critical thinkers. This produces autonomy where parents can then gradually withdraw their vigilance and only occasionally intervene where needed.
Over all, if parents desire to see their children achieve academic success, they must be willing to give of their time and energy to develop a positive learning environment at home. This parental engagement goes beyond the conventional homework intervention, and yet, is well worth the effort to see our children thrive as independent, accomplished academic achievers.
Jeynes, W. H. (2011). Parental Involvement and Academic Success. New York and London: Routledge Taylor and Francis Group.
O’Keefe, L. (2014). Parents who read to their children nurture more than literacy skills. The American Academy of Pediatrics. Available at: http://www.aappublications.or/content/early/2014/06/24/aapnews.20140624-2 [Accessed 19 September 2016].
Stipek, D. and Seal, K. (2014). Raising Children who love learning. New York: Henry Hot.