You’ve likely heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Certainly, the same is true when it comes to fostering academic success.
Family members, teachers who have reached a variety of educational levels (BS degree, master’s in education, PhD in education, and others), school administrators (who may hold a master’s degree or higher), and community organizations all play a role in the development of students, from birth through high school.
Unfortunately, a number of metrics—including grades, standardized test scores, dropout rates, and college completion rates—reveal achievement gaps between groups of students. Education researchers have conducted numerous studies on what influences academic success. A 2010 study conducted by researchers at the University of Leicester and University of Leeds was particularly telling.
The study concluded that regardless of parents’ education levels, , their efforts toward their child's academic success is crucial—playing a more significant role than those of the school or even the child. Professor Gianni De Fraja, one of the three researchers conducting the study, said, "We found that children work harder [when] parents put more effort into their education.”*
Dr. Joyce L. Epstein, a leading U.S. education expert focused on community and parental involvement, developed a model for families and schools that shows how each can influence a child’s educational success through different types of academic cooperation. Dr. Epstein’s model offers six ways in which a parent or family can foster the educational success of their child:†
Establish a daily routine for your family. Give your child a quiet place to study, set firm bedtimes, and assign household chores.
Monitor your child’s out-of-school activities. Set limits on the amount of screen time, arrange after-school activities and supervised care.
Set a good example. Model the values of learning, hard work, and discipline while demonstrating achievement. If you happen to have a BS degree, master’s degree, or a PhD or EdD from a traditional or online university, be sure to reinforce the importance of that accomplishment with your child.
Set high but realistic goals for your child. Make sure the goals you set are age appropriate and in line with the child’s maturity. Recognize and encourage special talents by informing family and friends of your child’s successes.
Encourage your child’s academic progress. Maintain a supportive home, help with homework, discuss the value of a good traditional or online education, show an interest in your child’s progress, and stay in touch with teachers.
Encourage reading, writing, and family discussions. Read with your child, discuss what is being read, and encourage creative writing.
Long before a student first steps through the doors of a school, they have received instruction—the learning and teaching that takes place in the home. In fact, school-age children only spend 30% of their waking hours at school, leaving plenty of opportunity for family involvement.† Thankfully, parents don’t have to get a master’s degree in education to be qualified to help their child succeed academically. What parents should know is that the quality of their instruction and their home environment makes a big difference in how much their child already knows and how prepared they are to begin learning.
So, whether your child is starting preschool or graduating from high school, family involvement is a crucial role that continues throughout their academic lifetime.
*EurekAlert! A Global Source for Science News, “Parents' effort key to child's educational performance,” on the Internet at www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/uol-pek102910.php referencing a study by Gianni De Fraja, Tania Oliveira, Luisa Zanchi entitled "Must Try Harder: Evaluating the Role of Effort in Educational Attainment,” Review of Economics and Statistics, August 2010, Vol. 92, No. 3: 577.
†Michigan Department of Education, “What Research Says About Parent Involvement in Children’s Education in Relation to Academic Achievement,” on the Internet at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/Final_Parent_Involvement_Fact_Sheet_14732_7.pdf.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.