This post is basically an extract from a newspaper article I wrote, which was published on 16/1/13.
Research from many sources and empirical evidence have repeatedly shown that students learn best when parents are involved in their education. Their social behaviour at school is also better and they are less likely to engage in high -risk activities. These findings do not depend on the socio-economic status of the students, as they hold true across all social classes.
Students’ academic achievement is generally higher when parents value education and have high expectations for their children. Such parents give their children rewards and incentives for good schoolwork and conduct, and they support school rules and policy. They monitor or help with homework and if necessary, seek assistance for their children through private lessons. They maintain cordial contact with their children’s teachers, become members of the PTA and take part in various school activities. Students coming from this kind of environment show respect for teachers and are usually successful in their studies. It is clear then, that parents can influence the performance of schools to some extent, either positively or negatively.
There is a growing minority of parents, however, who reject the authority of the school and who constitute a serious challenge to the smooth functioning and performance of our schools. These parents do not support the values, rules and policies of the school. They display a lack of cooperation, disrespect and hostility towards principals and teachers and they defend or support their children’s refusal to adhere to school rules and values. Their constant claim is that the principal and teachers are always “picking on” their children. One of my standard responses to that claim is that I have never seen a principal or teacher “pick on” a student who was attentive, diligent, polite, well-behaved and compliant with the school rules.
These parents tacitly encourage their children to defy the rules and often fail to monitor schoolwork and homework. There is serious conflict between their home values and school values. Sadly, students from these homes never learn to accept responsibility for their own actions or for their own academic progress. They often end up as underachievers or failures, and make it more difficult for the school to attain its performance goals. The biggest problem, when dealing with delinquent students of this type, is to get them to understand that they did something wrong. They see nothing wrong with their behaviour and tend to resent corrective action.
Discipline and school performance depend, to a significant extent, on trust and cooperation among school personnel, students and parents. Schools function better when parents and teachers respect each other and work towards common academic, extra-curricular and developmental goals for their charges. In such an environment, PTA meetings, year level meetings and conferences with parents become truly meaningful, and positive change in student conduct, attitudes and performance can be effected. When teachers and parents work in tandem students can no longer neglect assignments or misbehave, and the principal’s job becomes easier.
It is not hard to see why some of our most successful schools are those which enjoy a high level of parental support, respect and participation. The opposite is also true. In short, parents influence school performance.