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The Best Predictors of School Success: Parental Involvement

by Erica Loop, studioD

School success isn't solely dependent on the teachers and other academic professionals. One of the best predictors, according to several studies, of a child's ability to do well in school is parental involvement. Parents who take an active role in their young students' academic life can help boost grades, test scores and motivation.

Academic Results

If you are looking for a way to help to give your child's grades a boost, the Michigan Department of Education notes that parental involvement is linked to higher grades, improved test scores and an increased likelihood of graduation. According to the Center for Public Education, two-thirds of teachers say they think that children will actually do better in school -- getting higher grades or having improved test scores -- when parents are actively involved. This doesn't mean that simply showing up will make your child go from a C student to an A-plus one. Many factors come into play when looking at the academic results of parental involvement. These include the parents beliefs and values when it comes to academics, the depth or level that a parent helps his child by providing educational support and showing a genuine interest in the child's success.

Motivation and Self-Esteem

Aside from grades, parental involvement can help motivate a student and provide her with scholastic self-esteem. Acting as your young students' cheerleader can help her to feel more confident in her abilities to master new academic tasks and achieve the grades that she is capable of. For example, instead of ignoring your sixth grader's upcoming Spanish test, tell her how proud you are of her studying habits and that you know they will pay off when it comes to grading time. This can give her the motivation that she needs to develop an academic sense of self-esteem and walk into the test in a confident manner.

Types of Involvement

A parent can get involved in helping his child succeed scholastically in many ways. Involvement activities might include helping your child with homework, helping out with classroom events, acting as a class tutor, regularly attending parent-teacher conferences or joining a parent-teacher organization. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 89 percent of kids in kindergarten through grade 12 report having at least one parent who has gone to a parent-teacher or school event or meeting and 78 percent of students had a parent who regularly attended parent-teacher conferences.

Grade Level Involvement

Although parental involvement is one of the best predictors of a child's school success, in-school and at-home educational activities aren't always equal across grade levels. As kids move into middle and high school, the amount of parental involvement tends to drop. While this isn't always the case, the NCES statistics find that 92 percent of parents who have students in third through fifth grade regularly attend parent-teacher conferences as compared to 76 percent of middle school parents and 61 percent of high school parents. Additionally, opportunities such as volunteering as a classroom helper or chaperoning a class party might decline as the child moves into higher grades. This means that a vigilant search for involvement opportunities is key to maintaining parental involvement in the tween and teen years.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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