Parent Involvement: Why It’s So Important And What You Should Be Doing

Guest Post

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Being a parent is a big responsibility. Even though your child is just in elementary school, you want to put them on a path that's going to ensure they're always as happy and successful as possible. While some people like to downplay their parental responsibility by saying "kids will be kids," the truth is being as involved as possible in your child's life is incredibly important. Even though it will be many years before they start worrying about the SAT or deciding where they want to go to college, the early attitude they form towards education will strongly influence their future. 

Since this is an issue you care about, let's look at the research behind it, as well as what you should be doing: 

Why It Matters 

According to a study by the Michigan Department of Education, long term research shows the significant impact of parent involvement. From the school’s point of view, this is demonstrated by higher grades and test results, more stable attendance at school, and lower suspension rates. The study found that not only are students and parents pleased with the enhanced self-esteem and increased motivation to do well, but entire neighborhoods actually enjoy a decrease in the use of drugs and alcohol, as well as incidents of violence. 

The Six Types of Involvement 

Although it's normal to worry that you're going to make a mistake that will negatively impact your child's future, the good news is that there's a well-defined path that you can follow. Joyce Epstein, who's the Director of the John Hopkins University Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships, has identified the six key forms of involvement: communicating, parenting, volunteering, decision making, learning at home and collaborating with the community. 

Involvement in Action 

While being aware of leading parenting theories is always useful, it's also nice to have actionable examples of what you should be doing. Additional research has found that there are some simple but very effective things you can do to help your child excel in the classroom. The first is to have a consistent routine.  A stable, predictable family life that encourages personal responsibility for chores and homework helps your child feel secure. 

As a parent, you should initiate family discussions that show the benefits of education. Work with your child to set realistic goals for his schoolwork. Try to identify any problems, help with the homework without doing it and consult with his teachers to learn from their perspective.  You can also share good news about your child’s accomplishment with friends and family. 

Take advantage of opportunities to be involved in the school through volunteering to help on field trips, organize fundraisers or even prepare position papers for board consideration. Don't be shy about using your professional skills to improve the school environment. The key to successful parent involvement is to be interested and involved in your child’s life at school and home. Taking these steps will provide the level of support and preparation that lead to excellence!


John Wisenheimer is a freelance writer that blogs on the topics of parenting and babysitter tips. Find out more on his blog.