Parental Involvement In Education
Though infamous Tiger Mom Amy Chau certainly stirred the pot in 2011 with her controversial views on strict, Asian-style parenting, the debate over how much (and what type) of parental involvement in education is best for kids is probably as old as the school house itself. Though there may not be one right or wrong approach, the goal of parental involvement should be to raise an inquisitive, passionate, and well-rounded child, not a mini robot programmed to make straight As. So, what’s the parent’s role? Not to force achievement, but to foster intrinsic motivation, encourage the child’s efforts, advocate for the best learning environment possible, and to guide the child down the path to the fulfilling life he deserves.
- To Motivate
Parents who force their own beliefs about school on their children may have good intentions, but they’re sorely misguided. You can force a kid to make good grades using punitive measures, but this technique will likely backfire by making the child loathe school or worse, despise his parents. The better tactic is to help the child understand the purpose of school and foster a love of learning. If parents can do this, then the good grades will naturally follow.
- To Encourage
Children need to feel like their parents are truly listening to them. It’s imperative that moms and dads lend an ear when the going gets tough at school (and it will), reward their kids’ efforts, and encourage them to keep trying. Positive reinforcement and the occasional pep talk can go a long way as long as children know it’s sincere. Remember, school is tough, and it’s not just about reading and math. Kids are dealing with a ton of social pressure as well.
- To Advocate
So many public school systems are failing America’s students today, and even the best private school isn’t perfect. Parents need to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in their children’s classrooms and advocate for a learning environment that meets their kids’ needs. This means being aware of how their children learn best, communicating with teachers on a regular basis, and talking to their kids about school daily. Parents cannot and should not follow their children to school every day, but they need to play and active role and be part of the ongoing conversation about how their kids can get the best education possible.
- To Guide
Sometimes it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the competition of school. Report cards, certificates, awards, the Honor Roll. All of these things suggest that school is merely a race to the top of the class. Parents should pause to remember that excelling at school is not the end goal; instead, school is a stepping stone to the rest of a child’s life. It’s a time for kids to explore how they learn best, what kinds of things interest them, and how to cooperate with others. There’s a big difference between pushing children to make the grade and guiding them to discover the life path they’re best suited for.
The vast majority of parents truly want to do what’s best for their child, and a lot of times, their instincts are right on the mark. Unfortunately, the focus of so many schools today centers on grades and standardized tests. Parents should remember that what’s best for the school is not always what’s best for the child. It’s far more important to help children develop a genuine love of learning, to teach them to think critically, and help them discover their life’s purpose than it is to make them churn out letters on a report card.