Making positive impact by getting involved in our children’s educa­tion

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Every child has the capaci­ty as well as capability to be successful in school and in life. We as parents and care­givers can also help. So how do we help our children suc­ceed in school and in life? To­pAfric’s African Youth Edu­cation-AYE observation and research have taught us that it is just a matter of combi­nation of preparing them to learn and how they can learn. This Means, getting involved at the earliest stage in your child’s education. Parental in­volvement is known to be a cornerstone for children’s fu­ture. Involvement in child’s education can considerably make a substantial difference in both academic achievement and general school life.

AYE suggests that, when parents embrace or get in­volved in their children’s ed­ucation as early as possible it strengthens their learning competence. However, such activity has received less at­tention. Parent showing their children that they value edu­cation and using that in their daily lives will provide children with models which will greatly contribute to their educational achievement.

Why is parental involve­ment so important?

Such an activity can be linked to improvement of positive behaviour, attitudes and at­tendance in school. Getting involved will make a child un­derstand the importance of education, school and its pur­pose. Actually, children have two educators mainly, teach­ers and parents. From an ed­ucational perspective, parents and family members are the prime educators before they start any sort of education out of their homes i.e. day-care, nursery, kindergarten and pre-school and school. The in­fluences of these institutions on children remain by far the major, meaning throughout and beyond school. Therefore, parents’ involvement in their children’s education is abso­lutely crucial.

AYE has no specific paten of what parental involvement should be. However, parental involvement can be in m(a­ny) form but are to be cate­gorised into two blocks:

a)In­volvement in helping the child at home and Involve­ment in the school itself.

b) Involvement in helping the child at home

Obviously, there are no fig­ures that can prove that one have caused the other to happen. However, AYE’s re­searches on the field have demonstrated a strong rela­tionship between parents be­ing involved in their children education and the child’s ac­ademic achievement. Paren­tal involvement in child’s ed­ucation at the earliest stage can be equated with a better outcome. For children aca­demic achievement, what parents do in terms of sup­porting the child’s education can be considered as more important than who or what parents are. For example, being a rocket scientist and not being involved in your child’s education especially at early stage, your academ­ic credentials are worthless for the child’s development.

Learning activities at home with parents is very import­ant for children as it boosts their development both in­tellectually and socially than occupation and income of their parents. Parent involv­ing in their children’s home learning activities is very im­portant to their child’s edu­cational attainment as well as social behaviour. Quiet a couple of AYE research indi­cates that parental involve­ment maintains effect on academic achievement of children during adolescence and above. An evaluation programme for literacy and numeracy examined by the DEPARTMENT FOR CHILDREN SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES in the UK have also found out that there is a significant im­provement in reading and writing of children known to be underperforming before parents involvement.

Other researches also hold positive views on parents helping children with their homework. This can be seen as an important aspect of ed­ucational attainment. Stud­ies have also suggested that even for high school children (from year eight to “Abitur”) parental involvement or con­sidering tutoring, there is a positive relation between time spent on homework and academic achievement. How­ever, it does not necessarily mean that just the amount of time spent on homework does guarantee education­al achievement. Parental in­volvement goes beyond help doing homework. Parent in­volving in their children’s learning activities at home or outside their homes (Tuition centres) or having the child tutored in its comfortable en­vironment has shown consis­tent evidence of educational benefits and success for fam­ilies. It is therefore parents responsible to create or help create an adequate learning environment which will also be quite useful to their chil­dren’s way of learning.

Parents involvement in the school

Research and theories have been used to explain how parental involvement in their children’s’ school can also have a positive impact on the children’s educational achievement and adjustment to school. It simply means that parental involvement in school activities such as PTA (Parent Teacher Association “Elternabend”) or even being a member of the parent rep­resentatives of your child’s school. These activities will increase access to social net­work and information of your child’s education and the school. Parents establishing relationship with teachers, important information about the school system, general information’s, policies, sylla­bus and other practices will be known. It is therefore, absolutely important for par­ents to actively get involved in their children’s school par­ent council (Elternrat).

Meeting other parents with the same interests will pro­vide insight and expectations about the school. Depending on the network and the level of involvement, parents have opportunities to participate in any decision making pro­cess of the school policy. Par­ent’s participation in the rep­resentative council has a real leverage of decision making and has the right to be in­formed or advised on issues relating to the schools poli­cy. The Democratic charac­ter of parents representative council can be mean more than the right to be advised of informed, it does impli­cate a real decision making power. Having a listening roll or an observation roll does have an influence on decision making process. This should therefore not be reduced to a picture of a less influence or leverage.

Teachers become relatively responsive and supportive to a child needs if parents are involve in both school and home. In addition, both par­ents and council may jointly respond to children’s chal­lenges, practice and social inequalities even if it requires an array of approaches that parents may emotionally find it challenging to tackle. Thus, with parents participating in council activities, the process of combating or intervening issues related to discrimina­ tion in a school can be done effectively.

The benefits of getting in­volved

As parents are most likely to be very sensitive about their child’s emotional and social needs, getting involved in your child’s however comes with a whole number of benefits. Beside motivation and discipline, your involve­ment will create bond and strengthens your relation­ship with your child whilst gaining confidence in any decision making process. Pa­rental involvement will typi­cally and commonly include the frequency of communi­cation with teachers as well as activities related at home and at school to support chil­dren’s educational progress.

Being involve will also lead to a stronger relationship with the school i.e. a clear­er communication between both parties. The level of en­gagement in children’s edu­cation also determines a bet­ter support and reputations of teachers and school. Chil­dren experiencing a unified approach between teachers and parents tend to under­stand and accept the impor­tance of school and educa­tion. Parental involvement bridges two elements of chil­dren’s development which is linked to settings at home and at school. As each of the settings may independent­ly be influential to a child, both settings will offer a unique influence of the two. With parental involvement, there will be awareness of teachers’ instructional goals which will provide support and resources for learning activities at home.

AYE’s research indicates that, parental involve­ment result in a substan­tial amount of self-es­teem of children and a better performance in school most importantly, when it comes to children of African heritage. Oth­er researchers have also suggested that, children recognise and give at­tention to education and value it as worthy in their own interest. Parental in­volvement encourages communication between parents and children and can also help in de­cision making. Academ­ic investigations suggest that motivated paren­tal involvement would lead and be useful for interventions and policy changes.

Considerably, the factual predictors of children’s’ achievement will neither not be the income nor social status of their par­ents, but the extent in which parents are able to create an environ­ment that will encourage their children to learn at home, whilst commu­nicating positively, rea­sonable expectation with their children as well as being highly involved in their children’s education at school.

This requires commit­ment and dedication of parents. The benefit of this effort will well worth it for the future.

Tano Omaboe

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