Parent or family involvement significantly contributes to improved student outcomes in school, according to Dr. Jeffry Cozzens, assistant professor of education at Freed-Hardeman University. In fact, everyone—students, parents, teachers, administrators and communities—benefits, he said.
Students with involved parents are more likely to have positive attitudes toward school. They are apt to demonstrate higher achievement gains because they are more regular in their attendance and they complete their homework more consistently. These achievement gains then result in higher graduation rates and enrollment in higher education.
Parents also benefit from involvement with their children’s education, Cozzens said. They know more about school programs and how schools work. They also feel empowered and confident in their ability to support and help their children learn.
Members of the school staff may demonstrate improved morale, he said. They come to understand families’ views and cultures. They are likely to have higher expectations for their students and they appreciate parents who volunteer. Teacher morale improves. In short, Cozzens said, they become more effective teachers.
Communities also benefit from greater involvement, he said. They have stronger schools and increased access to family services. “The most promising opportunity for student achievement occurs when families, schools and community organizations work together,” Cozzens said.
Cozzens suggests parents build trust with the school through their actions. “Do the thankless jobs,” he said. He urges them to go to the principal and ask, “How can we help meet the goals of the school?”
At one time, he said, parents visited schools mainly for children’s performances and open houses. Their purpose was to raise money for the school, and room mothers were seen only at party time. That thinking, Cozzens said, is outdated. “The parent,” he said, “is the central contributor to a child’s education. Schools can either ignore this fact or recognize the potential of the parent.”