Parental Involvement Term Paper

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Parental Involvement on School Performance and Behavior

The concerns raised by a lack of parental involvement in the life of a young child, especially as it relates to schoolwork and behavior, are not new. They have been around ever since schools began to look at what types of influences seemed to matter most to children. However, it has only been in recent years that schools have made more of an attempt to discover what children really need to help them through their school careers. There are several factors, but one of the most important factors, agreed upon by a significant number of educators, is parental involvement.

This does not mean that a parent must come to every school event and chaperone every field trip. Rather, it means that parents who are actively involved in the lives of their children and make sure that they are keeping up in school, doing their homework, and maintaining a good mental attitude toward work and classmates often have children that perform better in school. Parents who are disinterested in their child's schoolwork send a message to the child that school isn't important. This message doesn't take long to become established in the mind of a young child who is already impressionable and looks up to parents as role models for how to act and what to do.

It has been said that parents shouldn't worry about whether their children are always listening to them. They should worry that their children are always watching them. This is true for behavior and academic performance at school, as well as in other aspects of life. The problem of lack of parental involvement is becoming more wide-spread as more women enter the workforce and more marriages break up and produce single mothers and fathers that must raise their children and pay the bills.

Often, there is not much time for the children after the parent or parents arrive home from work. They are tired, and therefore the homework and other concerns of the child are often neglected or done in haste instead of talked about the done properly. This is doing a great disservice to our youth, as they will be the future of this world, and many of them will be ill-prepared for the 'real world' of work, bills, and household duties and responsibilities because of a poor education and poor role models. This can be prevented, but it is not an easy fix, and much work remains to be done.

It is desirable, however, to help these children with early intervention such as tutors, mentors, and other caring and compassionate adults that can 'stand in' for parents who are absent or busy. This emphatically does not mean that the parents should be pushed out of the child's life even further. Parents should definitely be encouraged to participate in their children's life in a constructive manner. However, for children whose parents neglect them and aren't involved in helping them with school and life, mentors and tutors can be very helpful. The available grant money will ensure that these children get the kind of help and support that will allow them to make it in school and in life.

II. Conceptual Framework/Literature Review

In order to more clearly understand how the lack of parental involvement can cause problems in school and in later life, it is necessary to deal with some facts and figures that have come about from other research into this subject. This literature review will hopefully show two things: 1) children need their parents or other caring adults involved in their lives if they are to do well in school, and 2) problems in school will extend into later years, creating difficulty with adults tasks such as forming quality relationships, maintaining a household, and holding down a job.

Studies seem to indicate that many parents realize that their involvement in their children's lives is very important, but they still fail to take the time to work on this problem. A survey taken in 2000 indicated that 93% of parents felt that getting involved with the schools was crucial, yet only 26% participated in any kind of parent-teacher organizations, and only 32% volunteered at the school on some level (Family, 2000). While it is true that many parents work and are unable to volunteer, most PTA meetings are at night and it would seem that these parents could attend and gain valuable information about how well their children are doing and what the school is doing for the children.

An interesting fact to note is that the different types of parental involvement affect children in different ways. For example, being involved with children at the school generally affected their grades, while being involved with children at home generally affected their test scores. This is indicative of an area that needs further research. The same study that produced this information also found that there is a different in parental involvement based on race and ethnicity. White parents spend more time helping their children with school related activities than black parents, on average (Catsambis, 1995).

A study performed in 1992 showed that many students didn't think their parents were preparing them for school. As a matter of fact, the study showed that only 14% of juniors and seniors in high school thought that their parents had prepared them for school, and many of them were concerned about college and their futures because of this. Since school is one of the first places that children learn to follow rules and take responsibility, lack of parental involvement can affect later years as well (White, 1994).

Many studies into this matter have been conducted over the years, and they all seem to indicate the same thing: parental involvement equals better school performance (Bartle, Anderson, & Sabatelli 1989). Because of this, schools are trying to get parents to be more involved, but there is another angle that they must address. Studies have also shown that it is not just parental involvement, but what kind of parental involvement that shapes a child (Paulson & Sputa, 1996).

Apparently, students whose parents are involved don't always agree with their parents as to how much involvement they really have (Callan & Noller, 1986). Sometimes parents think that they are doing more than they really are to help their children, and they must be made aware of this so that corrections can be made. It is also true, according to many studies, that the way children are brought up affects their school performance. Parents that are warm and nurturing with receive a different response from their children than those that are cold and indifferent (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, & Fraleigh, 1987).

This does not only hold true for the child's ability to do schoolwork, but also for their interest in school and their overall performance on things such as standardized tests (Stevenson & Baker, 1987). As students become adolescents, their opinions about school may change through no fault of the parents. However, children that have been raised with loving, nurturing, and helping parents are often less likely to change their attitudes about school to poor ones as they get older, indicating that what happens to children at a young age shapes how they feel about things as they get older (Paikoff, & Brooks-Gunn, 1991). While this is logical, many parents don't realize this fact until it is too late, and that leads to a lot of trouble helping their children. (There have been some indications, however, that parental involvement should decrease as children get older, because children must learn some things on their own and grow to be adults. This does not mean that parents should make a concentrated effort every school year to do less for their children. It does mean, however, that the first years of school are the most important, and that children learn to do more for themselves as they grow up as a result of good parenting during their early years Smollar, & Youniss, 1989).

III. Hypothesis or Statement of Purpose

It is the purpose of this research to show that students perform better in school, both academically and socially, when their parents and/or other caring adults are involved in their lives. A secondary purpose of this research is to show that the skills that students learn from their parents and school at a young age carry over into their adult life and affect how they function in society.

It is the desired goal of this research to show that there is indeed a correlation between parental involvement (or lack thereof) and the academic and social well-being of children, and that children whose parents pay attention to their academic progress achieve higher grades, on average, than children whose parents do not see their academic career as important enough to be involved with.

IV. Methodology

In order to research this topic, there is no need for extensive testing. The literature review above is helpful for discovering some of the answer to…

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