Research indicates successful parent involvement improves not only student behavior and attendance but also positively affects student achievement. Parent involvement is essential to the success of children in school. When parents form school partnerships and become actively engaged in the education of their children, the results favorably impact success in the classroom. Findings indicate the more the relationship between parents and educators approaches a comprehensive, well-planned partnership, the higher the student achievement. Thus, First Impact Education™ recognizes that a strong connection between home and school can make a difference in how and if children succeed in the classroom.
The purpose of First Impact Education™ parent resources is to offer parents practical, positive ways to become active, informed supporters of the education of children. Schools can place these resources in campus parent resource centers, use the resources as the basis for training parents how to effectively support the academics and social skills of their children, disseminate pamphlets during or at the conclusion of Early Childhood and parent trainings, family involvement nights, parent conferences, at other events, utilize them as a component in a parent involvement program, or have them readily available when the situation warrants. Parent resources are available in several forms: Parent Compact Guide, Parent Engagement Wheels, and Parent Pamphlets. These parent tools equip parents and teachers with resources on timely topics that will not only improve parent and school partnerships, but aid in the performance of students throughout their education. When schools cultivate partnerships and engage families in their children’s education, author Constantino (2008) stated that student achievement can increase. In addition, Constantino noted that schools must continuously nurture relationships with parents by providing them with resources to help their children succeed in school. Constant attention in strengthening relationships lays the foundation for high-quality engagement.
Teachers’ abilities to build positive relationships with parents affect the success of students as well as the success of the campus. Parent/teacher relationships are built upon mutual respect, effective two-way communication, and an understanding of what is best for students. Research shows that when parents receive frequent and positive support from teachers, they are more involved in their children’s education. The positive involvement of parents contributes to higher grades and test scores, improved attendance, homework completion, and student display of positive behaviors and attitudes. Thus, these benefits of parent involvement provided First Impact Education™ with the rationale for developing the resource Parent/Teacher Connections.
First Impact Education™ offers a variety of resources to assist parents and educators in the development of a partnership to support children academically and socially. These resources are represented in several formats: parent pamphlets, wheels, and flip charts. Parent Pamphlets, Parent Engagement Wheels, and Parent Compact Guide are developed especially for parents. However, other educators including teachers may use these resources to contribute to the success of children in school and later in life. The Parent/Teacher Connections, also in flip chart format, is a resource that guides teachers in how to communicate effectively in a variety of settings and provide opportunities that will reach and engage parents, maximizing parent involvement at school and in the home.
As teachers partake of planned and on-the-spot opportunities with parents, they can rely on the previously mentioned resources or provide these resources to parents as a follow-up to conversations, conferences, or trainings. The Parent Compact Guide provides a multitude of strategies, tips, and activities parents can use to help their children succeed at home, in school, and in life. Parent Engagement Wheels offer parents quick-and-easy access to numerous topics children face daily. The wheels provide parents with tips, suggestions, and other insights that activate parents to work in collaborative roles with schools in promoting learning. Parent Pamphlets contain ideas and activities parents can immediately use to successfully interact with their children, guide their children to make appropriate decisions on social and emotional issues, and support their children in the development of academic and social skills. The pamphlets focus on 25 different topics including bullying, critical thinking, homework, state assessments, academic success, parent/teacher conference, and attendance.
Joyce Epstein (1995), Director of the Center on Families, Communities, Schools, and Children's Learning at Johns Hopkins University, is a longtime advocate of parent and school partnerships. Through a synthesis of research conducted by the Center, Epstein states that schools have a responsibility to improve education, but they cannot achieve this by working independently. To strengthen student learning and development, research denotes schools must join forces with families and communities. Epstein developed a framework that describes six types of parent involvement that assists educators as they develop plans to form family partnerships for the purpose of helping children succeed in school and in life. Based on this framework, National Parent-Teachers Association (1999) created six National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs. Schools could use both the framework and the Standards to evaluate their parent involvement component. First Impact Education™ recognizes the value of the framework and the inclusion of the Standards in the development of parent involvement resources. Parent/Teacher Connections complement the six types of involvement defined by Epstein’s framework. This product displays a direct connection to NPTA’s Standards I, II, and III and indirectly relates to others. Standard I encourages frequent and meaningful communication between the school and home. Standard II suggests that parenting skills be promoted and supported. Standard III recognizes that parents hold important roles in student learning.
Research indicates schools can improve student learning by the ways they engage with parents. Taking the time to build trusting relationships with parents is paramount. When such relationships are established, then parents should be directly shown how they can support their children’s academic progress. Schools must plan a variety of opportunities in order to help parents understand what is expected of them in relation to parenting skills and academic support. When parents form trusting relationships with schools, and are provided tools and equipped with knowledge, they can make a favorable impact on the success of students. Similar findings were found by Swap (1993). Swap noted that effective parent engagement should be comprehensive. Schools must communicate and interact with parents in multiple ways over the course of time. Swap concluded that parent engagement is necessary for all students at all grade levels, especially English Language Learners and those with disabilities. Parent/Teacher Connections will guide teachers as they address a multitude of topics with parents. Suggestions, tips, and strategies are provided teachers as they address issues with parents, nurture parents, and communicate skillfully. Two-way communication is essential in showing parents that they are trusted and needed in the education of their children. Strategies within this flip chart assist educators in effectively building this home-school connection.
The United States Department of Education acknowledges there are many factors that facilitate school learning. Of those factors, some are acquired through the relationships of children with their parents such as attitudes, habits, knowledge, and skills. Clark (1993) reported that parents of high-achievers were more involved with their children in home learning activities. These parents appeared to establish higher expectations for their children as compared to the parents of low-achievers. High-achieving children were reported to have spent more time on homework; however, the parents of low-achieving students helped their children more with homework tasks. Parent/Teacher Connections assists these adults in working together for the mutual benefit of children. Strategies are offered that can be immediately applied when interacting with parents.
Federal Title I legislation, Section 1118, requires schools to include a parent involvement component. Parent participation shows parents taking a role in academic learning and other school activities. Schools, in compliance, should find ways for parents to have integral roles in assisting their children’s learning. Schools should not ignore parental involvement provisions in state and federal laws. Findings reveal that students, who build relationships with caring adults, perform better in school and grow in self-confidence. Schools improve their learning environments with strong parental support inside as well as outside the classrooms.
Although it is essential for parents of all students to be involved with their children’s education, some researchers report that at-risk students need parent involvement more than most other students. The Michigan Department of Education (2001) advocates parental involvement as a firm predictor of student success in comparison to that of socio-economic status. Students who attend schools with a high level of community and parental involvement have a foundation readily prepared for success, yet those schools must continue to communicate with and promote parent engagement to reach higher levels of or sustain student success.
Due to parent involvement being an important component in school plans, schools have ongoing parent programs for the purpose of engaging families in supporting their children’s learning in literacy and mathematics. Research from these programs yield findings that show student achievement is positively impacted by the influence of parental home support. Jordan, Snow & Porche (2000) advocated day and evening parent training on site. Their research supports the inclusion of literacy activities in the training due to the resulting student gains of children whose parents were involved in at-home and at-school activities. Studies by Starkey & Klein (2000) found that parents were willing to support their children when provided math training and materials. Children, whose parents provided support, demonstrated an increase in skills and knowledge. Thus, First Impact Education™ provides materials that help parents provide academic support at home and supplies schools with readily available resources to use with parents and/or disseminate to parents during conferences and trainings. Suggestions for building academic skills are offered within Parent/Teacher Connections.
Studies by Miedel and Reynolds (1999) sought to determine whether parent involvement in early childhood programs affects children’s achievement later in school. Evidence shows if parent involvement in the early years continues, then it is likely to promote school success into high school. Sanders, Mavis, and Herting (2000) found that the positive effects of family, church, and teacher support on students’ attitudes and behavior in school lead to higher achievement for both genders. One finding noted while African-American girls spend more time with family and boys spend more time with friends, parent support is significant to the school success of both boys and girls. Thus, positive interaction with adults who are encouraging and supportive can result in positive benefits for females and males. Marcon (1999) conducted a study about parent involvement with preschoolers. Findings show increased parent involvement is related to the positive development and skill mastery in all content areas. In conclusion, both studies demonstrate the more families encourage and participate in their children’s education, the better their children tend to perform in school and are motivated to continue their education.
Clark (2002) discovered that parents’ and teachers’ standards for their children accounted for a large variance in student achievement. This finding emphasizes the importance of informing adults how their guidance, instruction, and conversations may affect students. Adults need to be empowered to assist students in ways to support learning. It was discovered that time management is an area of concern for students. First Impact Education™ products directly target time management and numerous other pertinent topics that can help teachers, parents, or other adults advance or support learning.
Wang, Oates, and Weishew (1997) reported findings from case scenarios from three urban schools whose common goal was to improve student learning. This parent involvement research shows that shared partnerships between parents and schools are crucial. The education of children is a collaborative adventure, not an undertaking controlled completely by one entity. If children are to be successful in school, then parents, school staff, and the community must all be stakeholders. Parents must be given a voice and provided the skills and knowledge so that they are armed with an understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and how to support their children’s education.
Researchers suggest that the high levels of achievement by minority students, as noted in a report provided by the National Education Goals Panel (Smrekar et al, 2001), is partially due to community contributions and the set expectations of parent involvement. A recommendation that surfaced from a study by Moore (1998) encouraged schools to incorporate a range of strategies for active engagement of parents. The schools that had a greater impact on improved reading achievement indicated they utilized the designated practices which appeared to yield higher levels of parent engagement. Cotton & Wikelund (1989) conclude that the more intensely parents are involved, the greater the impact on achievement.
Other research by Cotton & Wikelund (2001) shows that "parents generally want and need direction in order to participate with maximum effectiveness. Orientation/training takes many forms, from providing written documents...” Therefore, schools should meet the needs of their parents by identifying multiple participation opportunities, providing a variety of resources, and offering flexible training/conference scheduling for parent training. Studies indicate that parents are similar to students in that they also have varying levels of readiness and limited free time. Programs for parents should be vertically aligned within school districts so that parent involvement programs extend over the schooling years and not be restricted to the early years. The purpose of parent involvement must be clearly communicated to parents with emphasis placed on the difference such support can have on the school performance if parent involvement begins upon school entry and continues throughout the education years.
In her book Developing Home-School Partnerships: From Concepts to Practice, Swap (1993) provides research studies detailing the effects of parental involvement at the preschool, elementary, and secondary school levels. Swap also included a comprehensive summary of the literature that denotes the benefits of family involvement in schools. Benefits include increased student achievement, increased student self-esteem, reduced behavioral problems in school, and improved school attendance. Teachers must understand how to reach all parents if they are to involve all parents and reap these targeted benefits for children. Parent/Teacher Connections helps teachers break the cycle of poverty in families. First, teachers must understand poverty and its impact on learning before they can help parents to positively impact their children. Parent/Teacher Connections contains vital information that provides teachers a basis for this understanding. Strategies are identified throughout this flip chart to assist parents who may be experiencing the adverse effects of poverty.
Findings from an extensive research review on parent/family involvement programs are shared by Henderson and Mapp (2002) in the report A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Henderson and Mapp concur with other researchers that a favorable and substantiated relationship exists between family involvement and student success, regardless of race/ethnicity, class, or parents’ level of education. A key finding is that children of parents who are involved in home and in school settings show improved performance in school. This research validates the necessity of building and continuously strengthening parent and school partnerships throughout the schooling of children. First Impact Education™ has an array of tools to support schools and educators as they strive to meet the demands of legislation that requires parent involvement, implement campus improvement plans, collaborate with parents, and make a positive difference in the education of children. Parent/Teacher Connections addresses an array of topics that will help teachers as they share appropriate strategies with parents for improving behavior, setting goals, improving attendance, using electronics, thinking critically, living in crisis, meeting expectations in academics, and much more.
All the aforementioned findings appear to be emphatic that a relationship exists between parental involvement and student academic achievement. From the research available on parent involvement and student success, it seems that there is no one factor that contributes to student success in the educational system. The data collected from this literature review has been reviewed by the Product Development Team and used to develop the First Impact Education™ resources. With regard to home learning, school must focus on promising avenues of preparing students and families for success. Based on parent involvement, educators recognize that schools can further increase student achievement through family involvement. The formation of active partnerships between parents and schools leads to improved achievement, regardless of the socioeconomic status or cultural background. The Product Development Team is comprised of teachers, curriculum coordinators, principals, and other campus administrators, all of whom are educators with varied experiences. These educators have been actively involved with parents, including being parents themselves, leading parent conferences, facilitating parent training, designing parent newsletters, and guiding Family Nights. The numerous experiences of the Product Development Team contribute positively to the creation of First Impact Education™ Parent/Teacher Connections and other parental tools. These educational resources will assist all educators as they guide parents in supporting learning. Based on the influence of parental involvement shared by the reported findings in this document, educators must include and purposefully seek resources that guide teachers and parents in the “how-to” component. Teachers need support in how to create powerful partnerships and how to effectively communicate in order to lead parents in excelling as active partners in their children’s education.
Bibliography for Parent/Teacher Connections
Constantino, S. (2008). 101 Ways to create real family engagement. Galax, PA: ENGAGE! Press.
Clark, R. (1993). Homework-focused parenting practices that positively affect studentachievement. In N. F. Chavkin (Ed.), Families and schools in a pluralistic society(pp. 85–105). Albany, NY: State University of New York.
Clark, R. (2002). Ten hypotheses about what predicts student achievement for African American students and all other students: What the research shows. In W. R. Allen, M. B. Spencer, & C. O'Conner (Eds.), African American education: Race, community, inequality, and achievement: A Tribute to Edgar G. Epps. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Science.
Cotton, K. & Wikelund, K. R. (2001, August). Parent involvement in education. Retrieved December 20, 2008 from http://www.nwrel.org/scpd/sirs/3/cu6.html
Cotton, K. & Wikelund, K. R. (1989), Parent involvement in education, School Improvement Research Series, Close-Up No. 6, Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. www.nwrel.org/dcpd/sirs/3/cu6.html.
Dryfoos, J. G. (2000). Evaluations of community schools: Findings to date. Washington, DC: Coalition for Community Schools. http://www.communityschools.org/evaluation/evalprint.html
Epstein, J. (2001). School, family, and community partnerships. Boulder: Westview Press.
Henderson, A. T. & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
Jordan, G. E., Snow, C. E., & Porche, M. V. (2000). Project EASE: The effect of a family literacy project on kindergarten students' early literacy skills. Reading Research Quarterly, 35(4), 524–546.
Michigan Department of Education (2001). What research says about parent involvement in children’s education. Retrieved February 3, 2012 from http://www.michigan.gov/documents/Final_Parent_Involvement_Fact_Sheet_14732_7.pdf
Marcon, R. A. (1999). Positive relationships between parent school involvement and public school innercity preschoolers' development and academic performance. School Psychology Review, 28(3), 395–412.
Miedel, W. T., & Reynolds, A. J. (1999). Parent involvement in early intervention for disadvantaged children: Does it matter? Journal of School Psychology, 37(4), 379–402.
National Parent-Teachers Association (1999). National standards for parent/family involvement programs. www.pta.org/programs/pfostand.htm#Success.
Sanders, M. G., & Harvey, A. (2000). Developing comprehensive programs of school, family, and community partnerships: The community perspective. Paper presented at the Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA.
Smrekar, C., Guthrie, J. W., Owens, D. E., & Sims, P. G. (2001). March towards excellence: School success and minority student achievement in Department of Defense schools (Report presented to the National Education Goals Panel). Nashville, TN: Peabody Center for Education Policy, Peabody College
Vanderbilt University. http://www.negp.gov/reports/DoDFinal921.pdf
Starkey, P., & Klein, A. (2000). Fostering parental support for children's mathematical development: An intervention with Head Start families. Early Education and Development, 11(5), 659–680.
Swap, S. (1993). Developing home-school partnerships: From concepts to practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Wang, M. C., Oates, J., & Weishew, N. L. (1995). Effective school responses to student diversity in innercity schools: A coordinated approach. Education and Urban Society, 27(4), 484–503.