When we take a serious look at the education of America's youth, it becomes immediately evident that there is much work to be done (Reglin, 2002). Too many children in schools across the United States are struggling with reading. Demographic factors such as poverty, racial and ethnic identity, family size, and educational level of parents affect the education performance of children (Musti-Rao & Cartledge). Research indicates that a positive partnership between the school and home can have a beneficial influence on the student's performance in reading. Parent's interest and involvement in school experiences are valued and promoted by teachers who recognize parents' significant role in children's literacy development (Flood, Lapp, Tinajero, and Villamil, 1999). Parents are the center of the early education of their children. They create the early images about learning that will shape the child's attitude for many years into the future. Despite some parents and families desire to provide the best for their children, some are unaware of how to become actively involved. Parents, principals, and teachers can work together to meet the students needs (Smith 1990). The home environment is conductive to learning to read. Parents and teachers can act as role models by reading themselves and reading to the children (Fredericks & Rasinski, 1989). It is not uncommon for teachers and principals to feel a little apprehensive when involving parents in classroom instruction. Parents are often thought to be a hinderer when aiding in the classroom. Parents are often thought to be pushy and overly aggressive. Teachers may be perceived as checking up on parents, and parents may be perceived as evaluating teachers. Mistrust and suspicion between parents and teachers
can develop. Both parties must attempt to communicate and be supportive of the students in order to bridge the gap (Allen & Freitag, 1988). The home-school relationship is very import to the literacy of children. The question most often asked is, "Can parents make a difference?" Given proper guidance and support, parents can supplement, in powerful fashion, learning that takes place in the classroom. Landmark studies indicate that children who learned to read early had parents who play the critical role in their children's early success in reading. Durkin also found that the home environment, as set by the parents, was conductive to learning to read (Durkin, 1966). The family provides the child's primary education environment. The benefits of involving parents are not confined to early childhood or elementary but has a lasting effect. Children learn to love to read from parents and role models. Children from low-income and minority families have the most to gain from parent involvement. The home influence hypothesis suggests that children of parents with high expectations do better than children of parents with low expectations (Reglin, 2002). Family involvement is mutually beneficial for students and schools Research shows that students benefit by making higher grades, by having better attendance, more homework completion, and more positive attitudes toward school (Kelly-Lane, 1998). The parent as well as the teacher has an allegiance to the children. Parents are not blank slates. They know their children; they know the context of their homes; they have a sense of good schools and they understand the values, institutions, and operations that exist in their neighborhoods and communities (Rasinski, 1989). Parents may act as aids in classrooms, helping with bulletin boards, or checking assignments. Parents may 3
be tutors in their children's classroom. Parent can also volunteer to come and read to the children. Some of the strategies presented in the classroom may be beneficial to the parents when helping their child at home. Parents need to communicate to the teachers in notes, phone calls,...