THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PARENTS’ EDUCATION AND INVOLVEMENT AND THEIR CHILDREN’S SOCIAL AND ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT
Parent involvement in their children school activities is often considered a pathway through which schools enhance the achievement of underperforming children. Consequently, parent involvement is encouraged by teachers, childcare providers, policy makers, parents, and researchers. Moreover, parent involvement is a key component of early childhood education programs. These programs encourage parent involvement by inviting parents to participate in activities at school and facilitating parent-teacher communication. Over the years, a large literature has documented the importance of parent involvement for young children. The role of parent involvement in the later years of schooling has received less attention. Past research on parent involvement has also been more heavily focused on associations with student achievement, with less attention to social and emotional domains of children's development. This propensity may be attributed to the academic nature of many of the behaviours defined as parent involvement like helping with homework. However, teachers and parents may discuss children's behaviour in the classroom as well, since behaviour problems and social functioning may have immediate consequences for the classroom environment and teachers’ instructional efforts.
Parent Involvement in Early Childhood
Parent involvement typically involves parents’ behaviours in home and school settings meant to support their children's educational progress. Measures of parent involvement commonly include the quality and frequency of communication with teachers as well as participation in school functions and activities. Parent involvement also characterizes parents’ values and attitudes regarding education and the aspirations they hold for their children. Although values and attitudes may not directly influence academic outcomes, they may enhance academic achievement indirectly by promoting children's motivation and persistence in challenging educational tasks.
Parent involvement bridges two key contexts in children's early development, namely the home and school settings. Within an ecological framework, the home and school contexts are characterized as autonomous micro-systems and parent involvement is conceptualized as a meso-system, which is made up of interactions between key micro-systems. Although each setting can independently influence a child, together the home and school contexts interact to offer a unique influence. In this study parent involvement is conceptualized as a product of the interaction between the influences of school and home settings by providing continuity between the two environments. For example, if parents are aware of a teacher's instructional goals, they may provide resources and support for those learning aims at home. Similarly, in terms of social development, parent involvement may facilitate the development of consistent disciplinary approaches across home and school. Accumulating evidence suggests that these parenting practices are associated with higher academic success in the early grades, although links to socio-emotional outcomes remain less clear.
Past research on parent involvement and children's academic skills is mixed. Some studies have found no significant association between parent involvement and academic achievement and a few have even detected negative associations, positive associations between parent involvement and academic achievement have been demonstrated repeatedly in the literature. A recent meta-analysis finds moderate associations between parent involvement and an array of learning-related or academic skills, such as achievement motivation, task-persistence, and receptive vocabulary, during preschool and kindergarten. With a predominant research focus on parent involvement and achievement in either preschool and kindergarten or high school, the potentially supportive role of parent involvement during middle childhood remains understudied.
Past non-experimental research on parent involvement commonly investigates contemporaneous associations between parent involvement and academic achievement. These studies typically examine within-grade associations of parent involvement and academic skills .Other work incorporates contemporaneous research in the early grades with longitudinal follow-up data later in elementary school or beyond. Such studies reflect the common practice of considering parent involvement as a static predictor of concurrent achievement or educational outcomes in later school years.
Parent involvement is generally thought of as an avenue for promoting academic performance. However, parent involvement may also enhance children's behaviour at home and in the classroom as parents and teachers work together to enhance social functioning and address problem behaviours. A growing literature has demonstrated benefits of parent involvement for social functioning. Such findings are also evident in adolescence .However; studies addressing parent involvement's links to socio-emotional skills have typically focused on early childhood and utilized cross-sectional designs.
The Importance of Parents’ Involvement in Their Children’s Education
Education is not something that only happens at school. Parents have as much responsibility for their children’s education as teachers do. A recent study on the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education shed some light on the impact parents can have regarding the level of involvement in their children’s education. The study examined the level of input parents showed and the effects thereof.
There are several roles that parents should play in their children’s education:
How to Improve Parental Involvement
Overall, the present findings suggest that parents continue to wield considerable influence on children's development as children progress through school. It is important for future work to explore parent behaviours that support children's achievement. In addition, further exploration of how parents and teachers may be jointly responding to children's social and behavioural skills could help to elucidate the potential benefits of parent involvement for social development. Investigation of the possible selection factors that motivate parent involvement would also be useful to inform policies and interventions.
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