Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Parents' Effect on Achievement Shaky??

I hardly know what to say! I don't care what studies have been done - parents have an enormous effect on their child's achievement. Parents have a direct impact on how much value a child places on learning. Parents have a major contribution to their child's literacy by controlling (or not) the amount of reading and TV in the home. Parents teach their children how to behave (a child who can't be respectful and behave in school will miss out on a lot of learning). Parents can send their child to school well fed and rested so they can be ready to learn. Parents can send their child to school from a loving and secure home. So don't tell us it's "shaky."

That said, I do agree with some of the points in Jay Mathews's column. In particular,

"Principals need to make schools welcoming places for parents," said Elizabeth Useem, a research consultant with the group Research for Action in Philadelphia, "but that is different from putting huge amounts of time into trying to get parents involved in governance or in coming to events at school planned for them. It takes a long time for parental governance input to work its way into classroom learning -- and even then, it might not be helpful input."

"Great schools and school systems . . . aren't obsessed with teaching the parents," Allen said. "They aren't making excuses. They are focused on one thing: teaching the children."

I agree. Keep parents informed, encourage involvement, offer help if needed, but don't try to "teach" them. That seems a little too patronizing as well as being fruitless.

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