Parent Involvement in Elementary Education

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Parent Involvement in Elementary Education

This paper is an attempt to provide an interdisciplinary solution to the issue of parental involvement and it's association with student achievement in elementary education. I chose to research this issue due to my concern for the children in my community that return to elementary school each year after the beginning of the school year; many times several weeks after the start of school. In fact, parents continued to register their children to return to school late into October of this year. Children that return to school eight weeks into the school year are at great risk of being successful and promoting to the next grade level. I work in the local elementary school district, which serves a portion of four neighboring communities, while not serving any one municipality exclusively. The issue that I would like to provide a solution for is that of parent involvement with their elementary school children and how that involvement can impact their children's academic success. It is my hope that by exploring and researching this topic in the disciplines of Education, Psychology, and Sociology, a viable solution will present itself.

The Education discipline has shown findings that there is a positive correlation between parent involvement and improved student achievement. However, the type of parental involvement that produces the increase in student achievement is more than that of a parent volunteering at their child's school. Elementary schools that provide an opportunity for growing parenting skills as well as encouraging at home learning activities have shown increases in student achievement (Ingram, Lieberman, and Wolfe, 2007). According to Ingram, Lieberman, and Wolfe (2007) some additional studies suggest that not all aspects of parental involvement correlate with intended outcomes. They cite Henderson and Mapp (2002) who found that some forms of parent involvement (e.g. communicating with the school, volunteering, and attending school events) have little impact on student achievement, especially in high school. Parents that support and encourage learning and education in general tend to have children that demonstrate higher scores, better school attendance and improved student attitudes. " 'Indeed, in some situations parent involvement can be negatively correlated to grades and test scores (Fan & Chen, 1999; Shumow & Miller, 2001)' ". " 'Additionally, there are significant barriers; these parents' lack of knowledge about how to help with schoolwork or support learning at home; parents' negative attitudes about school; societally pervasive barriers such as lack of time and money, poverty, single parenthood, non-English literacy, and cultural gaps between home and school (Iowa Department of Education, 1994); a lack of teacher training in parent involvement; and teachers' negative attitudes and inaccurate assumptions about parents.' "

The Ingram, Lieberman, and Wolfe (2007) study of the role of parents in high-achieving schools serving low-income, at-risk populations makes several implications and recommendations for schools, teachers and parents. "Based on prior research and the results of the present study, it is recommended that stakeholders in education focus parent involvement efforts on improving parenting practices and helping parents provide learning opportunities at home (Ingram, Lieberman, and Wolfe, 2007)." The parents in the study placed a prominence on parenting and learning at home, so therefore, should focus their efforts on providing positive conditions at home that foster learning. These efforts would include providing for a child's basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, and safety, as well as providing school supplies and a place for children to complete schoolwork. Parents should also get involved with home-based learning activities that foster development of a child's social skills, basic skills,...
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