Need For Structuring Parental Educational Involvement
The manager of a government-aided school in Kerala wanted to close down his school forever. Reason? The school is below average in academics. The teachers worked hard and gave special coaching to students. Still, pass percentage lagged behind that of nearby schools. What is missing? Manager as the last resort sought advice from the school psychologist.
School psychologist took an account of school infrastructure, teaching personnel and their teaching methods, student satisfaction and parents’ feedback. After an in-depth analysis, he located the glitch in the system. "Lack of proper parental educational involvement"
In the school which is situated in a rural area, 68% of the student population were either from low or average socio-economic class. 43% of parents were daily wage earners. Of the affluent sector, 12% male parents worked in gulf countries which means their mothers were parenting as a single parent.(Though not literally).
School psychologist listed reasons for lack of quality involvement from parents
- Low educational level of parents
- Low income and accompanying financial stress
- Lack of awareness of parents about the importance of educational involvement
- Lack of self-efficacy of parents and reservations they had against authority--especially teachers and faculties in administration.
- Lack of proper communication between school and home
- Lack of well-structured policy for parental educational involvement.
About a survey made in schools of rural India, Times of India daily editorial (January 18, 2018) reports like this.
“For a country that aims to be a global growth hub, the latest Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) for rural India makes for dismal reading. The survey for the report carried out in 28 districts across 24 states paints a sorry picture of school education. Focussing on 14-18-year-old students who comprise the first batch to pass Class VIII after the implementation of the Right to Education Act, the report finds that one-fourth of the students are unable to read their own language fluently, while 57% of them struggle to solve a simple sum of division.”
It is high time that such survey reports be supplemented with a scientific probing into the kind and degree of parental educational involvement extent in rural India. Because worldwide the educational research outcomes keep on reiterating untenable role of quality parental educational involvement in student academic-social-emotional growth and development.
Mobilizing parental educational involvement—an antidote
Many schools are oblivious to the potential of parental involvement in education and the myriad possibilities ensuing from it. They forget to tap into this collective force for reaping rich benefits in terms of academic outcomes of their student population.
Learning is an activity which takes place in many social contexts. Of this, home and classroom are two prominent places where formal disciplined learning come into action. Home-study is complementary to classroom learning. No student can clinch the objectives of learning without spending time for self-study on a daily basis.
If the psycho-social ambiance of a home does not ensure a conducive environment, the budding learners will never develop that fine habit of systematic disciplined learning. For a student to review, contemplate, elaborate and revise the matter taught in the classroom the home ambiance should carry necessary motivational elements. A silent place for the student to learn and a study time for him which will not be interrupted by other family activities are the basic requirements. Yet quality time and suitable space for learning can never be a substitute for the most significant thing a student needs—“parental educational involvement”.
Parent’s involvement in the education of a student can assume different patterns. The educational and financial status of parents, the age of the student and that of parents and guidance from school all influence the degree/kind of involvement a parent caters to the student.
Generally, three patterns of involvement are noticed:
1) There are parents who pay attention to the level of performance of their wards. When the examination/ results come out they become alert. They may arrange tuition/remedial classes if their wards score poor grades in any subject. Such parents’ aspirations about their wards are performance oriented. Its a sort of passive involvement.
2) There are parents who ask the students about daily school activities and find quality time every day to discuss with them. These parents need not be highly educated but they keep a tab on what is happening in the educational life of their wards. They are eager to talk to the teachers of their wards but may be skeptical about approaching them
3) There are parents who sit with their wards during homework hours and even offer help. They monitor and give guidance in their regular learning activities. They model desired behavior like daily reading, pursuing knowledge etc.They never miss an invitation from school and might be in regular contact with teachers of their wards. They discuss future educational plans with their children and are always on the lookout for better avenues.
Usually, parents from low socio-economic status never go beyond first and second categories of parental educational involvement. The third pattern of parental involvement need not be affordable to all parents given the constraints of time/work and their educational status as well. Also, this kind of involvement may lose its sheen when the students enter adolescence and begin to demonstrate a need for autonomy and independence in their personal matters.
Parental educational involvement policy
“Greater the difference between family and school, greater the need for parents and teachers to work hard at knowing one another”, Lightfoot (1978). Scott-Jones (1988) opined that both teachers and parents generally value educational attainment but may not work together toward that goal.
Most parents are unsure of how best to help (Epstein, 1990) and all parents want to be informed by teachers and schools how to help students at home and what children are expected to learn. Orientation and training given to parents boost the effectiveness of parent participation (Rioux & Berla, 1993).
If a school has its own parental educational involvement policy, the above-mentioned differences in parental involvement can be minimized and a more or less uniform pattern of involvement can be etched out. Such parental educational involvement guided by a structured school policy can be utilized as a means for accomplishing many institutional objectives related to academics and discipline.
A parental educational involvement policy structured by a school to foster parent’s engagement with educational activities articulates a clear framework for parents for interfering with the educational life of their wards. A good policy takes into account socio-cultural aspects of parental group and tries to incorporate it into the culture of the school and its functioning. Compatibility between the aspirations of parents and teachers regarding the student outcomes smoothens the implementation of policy.
Communicating school policy to the parents can be done in terms of explicit parental behaviors to be performed in the interest of academic life of the student-
- Once in a month parent-teacher meeting should be held, with proper discussions about the child's performance in academics. These discussions should also include the emotional and social life of the student. Both parties should respect suggestions from each other and should collaborate for the holistic growth and development of the student.
- Technological facilities (e.g.internet, mobile) must be utilized by the school to help the parent keep a tab on the daily academic/ non-academic activities each student go through on a particular day. The school can make use of Social Media Platforms to enhance Parent-Teacher Communication, and send E-Mails regarding the student's performance.
- Parents from low socio-economic classes can be made aware of the significance of their involvement in the educational activities of their wards through effective parental training programmes held atleast once in 2 months. The School Teachers and the Principal themselves can contribute to such programs.
- It can be made mandatory that each parent has to keep a personal record of marks scored in terminal, class tests etc and produce it when required. This would ensure that the Parents are keeping a regular check on the child's performance. Exhort each parent to keep a journal of daily homework activities performed by their wards.
- Most Importantly, the school must continuously encourage Parents to monitor the Student's everyday behavior at home, and report the teacher in case the student is not studying. This will ensure that the student studies efficiently at home and evolve the parent-teacher relationship.
Partnership is everything
Learning is a triangular process comprising student, teacher, and parent. Professional role of a teacher remains incomplete without proper involvement from parents. A teacher can motivate a student to learn. But only with the help of parent the teacher can sustain the student motivation. A teacher may recognize that one of her students is not cooperating and have symptoms of laziness. But without the help of the parent, a teacher can never identify the reason behind it. A teacher can ask the student to do daily homework. But only a parent can give a reliable answer to the query why a particular student comes to the class without doing homework.
A teacher may get astonished by the exceptional intellectual acumen of a student. But his/her low performance in the examination might be intriguing her. Only a parent can help the teacher to delve into the root cause of the problem. A teacher can experiment with innovative methods of teaching. But only through a parent, she can have a complete knowledge about its real impact on the student. Parental educational involvement matters a lot.
- Lightfoot, S. L. (1978). Worlds apart: Relationships between families and schools. New York: Basic Books
- Scott-Jones, D. (1995). The family-school relationships model. In B.A. Ryan, G.R. Adams, T.P. Gullotta, R.P. Wessberg, and R.L. Hampton (Eds.), The family-school connection: theory, research and practice. (Pp. 3- 28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Epstein, J. L. (1990). School and family connections: Theory, research, and implications for integrating sociologies of education and family. Marriage and Family Review, 15, 99-126.
- Rioux, J. William; Berla, Nancy (1993). Innovations in Parent and Family Involvement Eye On Education INC.
About the author:
A higher secondary school teacher with around 17 years of experience in teaching. Also, a research scholar in psychology enrolled in Bharathiar University, Coimbatore.
She has published 18 research papers in various national and international journals.