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The Purpose of Parent Involvement Programs at Schools

by Erica Loop

An overwhelming 86 percent of people who live in the U.S., according to statistics from the Michigan Department of Education -- say that they feel parental involvement is the No. 1 factor when it comes to making schools a better place for students. Parent involvement programs provide a primary way for moms and dads to participate in the educational process, improve schools and engage with their children.

Student Performance

The academic experts at the Michigan Department of Education note that parent involvement programs can directly affect a child's scholastic performance. Students of parents who are highly involved often have better grades and higher test scores. This doesn't mean that simply showing up at school to volunteer for a classroom event equals straight A's. Instead, it is more likely that parents who choose to involve themselves in their children's academic lives have a stronger belief in the benefits of participation and possibly have more interest in their children's education than those who don't see any purpose in these programs.

Knowledge Building

Parent involvement programs don't only benefit the students. While the positive effects on children are undeniable, parents can also benefit from the chance to participate. Involving yourself in your child's school can help you to get a better grip on her daily life, the culture and expectations of the academic environment, who the teachers and staff are and who the other children are. This is particularly helpful in the event that your child has a problem or issue at school. Whether it is an academic plunge or a peer conflict, the already-involved parent knows who to talk to and how the school policies work.

Volunteers

With budget cuts and a lack of educational funding, some schools might have needs that they just don't have the money to pay for. Instead of hiring extra staff at a part-time rate to help out with extra activities or as teacher's assistants, parent involvement programs can supplement the already over-worked educator's needs. Keep in mind that parent volunteers should never act as educators or take over a primary supervisory role. Instead, parents can help out with classroom story times, chaperone a field trip, set up or clean up a class party or help out with a snack time.

Fundraising

According to the parental involvement experts at the PTO Today website, parent groups and programs often must contribute to fundraising efforts. Parents are often needed to develop and implement fundraising ideas. For example, your son's middle school science club wants to take a trip to the state science fair. It's likely that the school either won't or can't pay for this extracurricular event. The parents who help to sponsor or lead this group, along with the teacher, must figure out a way to raise money to pay for travel, accommodation and entry fee expenses.

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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