There was a time when parents had little doubt in their mind about the positive impact of parental involvement in the educational lives of their children; however, following the New York Times op-ed piece, Parental Involvement is Overrated, parents everywhere were left confused; what was once common knowledge is now being questioned.
While academics were quick to point out the research flaws of the NYTimes article, the bottom line seems to be consistent: certain types of parental involvement is positively correlated with academic success, while other types seems to hinder academic success.
As the researchers of the NY Times piece point out, the value a culture places on education plays an important role in the academic success. South Asians, in general, seem to place a very high value on education, and this is reflected in the work ethic and academic success of South Asian students. While the previous generation of South Asian parents took the back seat when it came to parental involvement, afraid to interfere with educators, new South Asian parents feel more comfortable communicating with teachers in the classroom with the hopes of supporting their children.
Jiya*, a stay-at-home mom in Pickering, expressed a common concern of parents, “I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing by calling my son’s teacher all the time. I don’t want to annoy her, but I also want to know what’s going on in the classroom.” While on the other end of the spectrum, Saila*, a mom and Toronto-based business owner says, “I don’t have time to volunteer for school events and I’m worried that will impact my daughter’s success in school in a negative way.”
Both these parents have legitimate concerns about the way their level of parental involvement is impacting their student’s academic lives. However, it isn’t the amount of parental involvement that makes the difference, it’s the kind of parental involvement that can impact your child’s success.
You are the expert.
As a teacher, I always look to parents to provide insight about a child. Parents are the experts when it comes to their own children. You know and understand your child better than anyone else. Challenge, support, and motivate your child by engaging in transparent communication with your child’s teacher. Do not hesitate to inform the teacher about what works and doesn’t work for your child. This can include (but isn’t limited to) discipline strategies, motivational strategies, interests, and learning style.
Be a Part of the Community
Education is more than what lies between the pages of textbooks. It is a community of learners. Become a part of that community in whichever way you can. Whether it is volunteering in the classroom or for school events, driving kids to and from sports games, attending a school concert or sending baked goods for the school bake sale – your presence speaks volumes. Children learn from your actions more than they learn from your words. When your actions show that you value education, they’ll learn to do the same.
Take a Step Back
A key part of academic success means letting your child make mistakes. This is not easy; when we walk down the aisles of the school Science Fair gawking at one picture-perfect project after another, it can be tempting to take the wheel of a take-home project. Resist that temptation. Completing school projects and homework does not help your child in any way. In fact, while a self-done project may not win first place in the school Science fair, your child will take pride in the completed project, the learning experience, and the knowledge gained.
*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the individuals.
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