The Influence of Parents
I have been teaching for over twenty-five years, yet after my first year, I learned that educators alone cannot improve a child's education. I believe in the triangle - parent, teacher, and child. Every element is necessary, and if one aspect is missing the child and society suffer.
Educators are not (and should not) be solely responsible for the instruction of our future generation, nor should they be responsible for promoting parental involvement. Communities need to become more actively involved as well Change must begin, and it must begin with a change in community spirit, parental responsibility, and well established educational roles for our teachers, principals, superintendents, and school boards.
Research shows that the connection between academic development and parental involvement is paramount. According to a five year longitudinal study by Monique Senechal and Jo-Anne LeFevre, parental involvement greatly promotes a child's educational success (2002).
Early literacy is important and the individuals responsible are the parents. Children absorb what they are taught within the home regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Like sponges, they soak up what they observe and hear. The study proves, "that storybook exposure at home predicts children's receptive language skills..." (2002, p. 455).
Another more recent study also considers the connection of family involvement and child development. According to the U.S. Department of health and Human Services, "high levels of family involvement in school are associated with high levels of child achievement." (Dearing et al., 2006, p. 653).
There are several programs schools can adopt to improve parental involvement. The Parent Teacher Organization, PTO, suggests numerous activities. Schools can initiate a Museum night, a school picnic, fitness night, expert advice night, etc.
The United States is falling behind in education, and we cannot let this happen. Many, like Michelle Rhee, blame ineffective teachers or failing schools. I blame anyone who has not done their job in educating a child, and if that includes the neglectful parent, then let that parent take some responsibility. I ask those who question this philosophy to look at our prisons. I would venture to guess that many prisoners are not in there because they had terrible teachers, but because they had terrible parents. I would also venture to add, that the majority are not in there because they are so intelligent but because they lack the educational background necessary to survive in our culture. Everyone is responsible. Everyone needs to act.