There is no definitive answer to the question posed in the title of this article; the fact is that some parents are sufficiently involved, while others are not. The answer also hinges on what is meant by “sufficient.”
Objectively, there is no reason why the socio-economic background of the family should bear any relationship to the extent of parental involvement. In reality, economic factors, time pressures – when both parents are working, the educational level and cultural background of the parents, and the degree of parental ambitions for their children are all elements that determine their degree of involvement.
Anita Gurian, Ph.D., writing on the NYU Child Study Center website, argues, “Parent participation is the ingredient that makes the difference to a child’s performance.” As Gurian notes, research shows that the children of involved parents do better academically, behave better, and are absent less frequently. These factors lead to them actually finishing school and then advancing to high school or college.
Recognizing the fact that many children from poorer families did not have equal access to educational opportunities was one reason why the Sherman Financial Group setup a foundation to create the Meeting Street Academy. The first of a planned number of similar institutions opened in 2008 in Charleston, SC. Its mission was to establish and maintain a rich and dynamic learning environment for children whose families care deeply about their child’s education, but simply cannot afford traditional private schools.
From the beginning, parental involvement was deemed an essential component by Meeting Street Academy. Indeed, Ben Navarro, the CEO of Sherman Financial Group, stated: “Parental involvement is essential in a child’s education. There needs to be a flow of communication to give the child the best chance at academic success.”
In defining that involvement, The National Education Association suggests a number of specific measures that parents can take. Some of their recommendations include:
- Read to your child and discuss the books and stories you read together.
- Help your child organize his/her time.
- Limit television viewing on school nights.
- Check homework every night.
- Meet with your child’s teacher to discuss how you can cooperate to help your child succeed.
Obviously, while some parents have more time to be involved than others, sometimes it’s not so much a question of time, but one of priorities. As Anita Gurian points out, by actively participating in their child’s education both at home and in school, parents send some critical messages to their child; they’re demonstrating their interest in his/her activities and reinforcing the idea that school is important.
By staying involved with their child or teenager, parents can be a source of support, create a climate for discussing tough issues and serve as role models for responsible and emphatic behavior.
Emphasizing why parental involvement is so important and given such a high priority by Meeting Street Academy, Ben Navarro, CEO of Sherman Financial Group, explains, “The issue of education is crucial to determining our future as a country.”
Without the constant support and involvement of parents in all aspects of their children’s’ education, the quality of their future is put in doubt.
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