Clay P. Bedford once said, “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.” It’s the 21th century and we have achieved the peaked of the brilliancy of the human race and everything is manipulated with a click of the mouse, with the aid of computer technology we can achieve a faster way of learning. However, the urgency, dedication, and quality of learning of children 20 years ago are quite different from the children of this generation. A change in the attitude towards education – a move to the life-long paradigm is currently taking place globally. The fundamental aim of building a better system of education defined the type of society built. Currently, substantial changes have taken place in the context of teaching as well as the system of education and organization of academic work. The success of our community depends upon the pace and extends of building a knowledge-based society with the realms of our school. But, “The quality of education in the U.S. today declined at a tremendous rate.” (Houig 4-10).
Have we as parents contributed to the decline of our children’s learning? Could this be the psychological effect of a dysfunctional family; the types of environment our children are growing; are the children themselves don’t have the urge to study or lack of parental involvement in the child’s education? Therefore, to what point do we as parents try to get involve in our children’s life? This has been a question unanswered by all parents like us? Parental involvement in children’s upbringing plays a very vital role in their attitude and quality of learning. Well, parents go immense lengths to give their offspring the best possible start in life – from providing the first meal, to offering vigilant protection and teaching them the skills to survive on their own. And after continued reading, researching, and asking questions about would have attributed to the continued decline of the quality of education of our children, I have drawn a common thought that child-rearing practice takes a vital role in the attitude of children towards education.
And the most influential in the child’s approach to education is definitely a good child-rearing practice (Hoover-Dempsey 3-42). The techniques of child-rearing that parent are using when raising their children has a great effect on the child’s growth and development. Every society has different child-rearing practices used to facilitate child development. The practices depend on cultures, beliefs, and socio-economic as well as environmental factors. These different factors influence child development as societies at the same time have different perceptions and expectations on child development. There are two types of child-rearing techniques introduced to us by Ms. Annette Lareau, “concerted cultivation” wherein in most cases provides the child with skills and advantages over “natural growth” wherein the children in the classroom will learn and eventually will advance to their career. Parents engaged in concerted cultivation are parenting by attempting to foster children’s talents through organized leisure activities, which teach them to respect authority and how to interact in a structured environment.
Learning how to interact in structured environment much like in the classroom gives student a head start in school special emphasis on reasoning skills and language use. These parents are much involved in the following their children’s activities. Through this process children from concerted cultivation upbringing will be more productive in their academic endeavors and they feel more responsible because they know that their parents are highly involved. The second type of technique of child-rearing practice involves parents in the working class which engage their children in the accomplishment of natural growth. Children usually have more unstructured time and therefore these children create their own to preoccupy themselves. They create activities such as watching television, playing computer games, PSP, X-Box and Nintendo DS.
This environment does not prepare children to survive in setting that are very structured, such as school. Accompanying the strain of not having enough time, working class parents are left with less time to get involve with their children’s schooling activities. My experience as a teacher’s assistant has thought me to judge parents’ involvement in their children’s learning with performance of each child in school. The proactive parents have their children’s homework completed, memos read and required documentation turned in the following day while half of the class still has their memos on their folders and with no homework completed. Now that coincides with the notes from research showing that when “Parents are involved in their children’s learning, students achieve more and less likely to drop out of school” (Keith, et.al. 31-40). So, how do we define parental involvement? Parental involvement includes a wide range of behaviors but generally refers to parents and family members use and investment of resources in their children’s schooling. After that broad definition, let us differentiate the various types of parents to fully understand and vividly portray the effects of parental involvement in each child’s quality of education.
There are three main types of parents: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parents. Authoritative parents are found to be the style with more success in upbringing; they establish a balance between making demands and being responsive to their children’s specific needs. These parents provide their children encouragement which embodies positive attitudes towards work and effort. With such enthusiasm and children receive all the courage they need to pursue good grades. These children also feel secured in their personality and feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it most. Children of these parents tend to do better while in school (Cotton 1). Authoritarian parents follow a style where they simply tell their children what to do, and not to argue with them. Parents who apply this style tend to limit children’s independence and force them to follow strict rules by threatening harsh punishment for violations. They also tend to be less responsive to and accepting of their children. By preventing children from exercising control over their own behaviors and learning from their mistakes, authoritarian parents inadvertently may be rearing children to believe that they are not responsible for what happens to them.
Children from these groups of parents tend to display loss of confidence and motivation because of there is lack of continued positive reinforcement. These are the parents that get discouraged when their children come home with bad grades. They punish their children which often cause an uneasy feeling for these children to seek for help; even worse, they may exhibit rebellious attitude towards their parental authority and ultimately towards his outlook on acquiring his education. Permissive parents are very passive and feel their child’s life should be their own responsibility and are often expressing an “I don’t care” attitude towards their achievement as well as their outlook in life. This can be very dangerous in that the child’s motivation is almost if not quite completely based on observation and peer influence, leaving a large variable on the location and condition of the child’s upbringing. These are the type of parents that are presumed not necessarily uncaring or negligent in their child’s need; however the children perceived it as such. Ruth Nuneviller Steinem once said, “Children don’t belong to us.
They are little strangers who arrive in our life and give us pleasure and duty of caring for them, but we don’t own them. We help them become who they are.” This is the true essence of being a parent and that being able to impart and bring out the best in our children, be it our own or other children that we get acquainted throughout our life time. Parents’ beliefs and perceptions on the responsibilities as parents have a big effect on their children’s interest in learning (ESU 1-3). But, numerous controversies could cloud the full implementation of programs in school to foster parental improvement in education. An article came up at one of the issues of Michigan State University paper saying, “Some are concern about parental involvement program stems from their observation that many schools and teachers use a “one-size” fits all approach to teaching. And the International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanity Studies say, “It is imperative for teachers and school personnel to enhance their strategies for promoting parental presence.”
While another article published at Education State say, “Educators need to recast the idea of partnership more one in which they parent parents.” So, everyone agree that we need to act on promoting parental involvement in education in order for the student to achieve and excel at highest potential. Our system needs to stream line and advocate the importance of parental involvement and overcome the various obstacles and stigma that permeates our society as a whole. We need to work in unison, united with one goal and dedicated to achieving the goal of improving the quality of education for our generation and the generations to come. It is imperative that these obstacles are talked and overcome so that our children will be better leaders and citizens of our country and the world. In my continued research I found that parental involvement has shown a consistent positive relationship between parents’ engagement in their children’s education and student outcomes (Such 39-68). So, what can we do as parents? To succeed in our endeavors we as parents, need to get a partner, learn more about organizations working to boost parental involvement, attend workshop and empowering oneself.
Parental involvement constitute (1) volunteering by adopting and sponsoring academic based programs, school clubs, or team – attending meetings to help enhance and support academic improvement within the school; coach sports and supporting the clubs and teams in its advocacy. And if the school cannot get a staffer dedicated to parent engagement, parents should get together and start training parents to be reading and math tutors and even establish a welcoming committee that new parents in the school; (2) setting fair and consistent rules – homework first and foremost before anything – else; (3) setting examples – parents needs to show interest in reading, discovering new things and learning and sharing ideas and (4) keeping lines of communication open parents need to encourage their children to relate how their day was. Parents should take a minute or two to answer questions that arises even in a very hectic schedule. Parental involvement is an important area of sociology because of its significance to social capital and its positive impacts on children.
It is, by itself, a social relation involving teachers, parent, and students where each play a role and function based on their own expectations, familial and social norms, and personal and social obligations. Japan for example set a high regard to parental involvement in the education of their children, “Teachers make explicit and exacting demands on parents for their direct involvement I their children’s learning” (Halloway et.al. 91-97). Japanese schools promote parental involvement (oyanokanyo in Japanese) is said to be strong because parent-school relationship is viewed as a relationship that is based on trust, deference, partnership, and cooperation. Mothers are the primary educator in the lives of their children. They are viewed as (1) audience – Japanese school provide venue where parents can interact with each other and this occur during school orientation (shinnyuugakujidoudetsumeikai) for incoming first graders done yearly during the month of January to February and parents sit in on a class and listen to the teacher’s lecture; (2) volunteers – parents are asked to fill out a form indicating interest, expertise, and experience. Information provided is used to create a “talent bank” a database containing the parents name so that they can use to fill up basic services that the school needs like safeguarding students while crossing the street or even recycling activities; (3) paraprofessional – parents acting as teachers during the summer.
These work includes making sure they read to their children, make sure that summer home works are done; (4) learners – Japanese school requires parents to attend seminars to improve their efficacy in educating and rearing their children and in some schools parents are encouraged to attend skills training like ironing, sewing, internet use, etc.; and (5) decision-makers – the school’s PTA officers in Japan meet in the city discuss matters geared to improvement in the school and their children. As my research progress, I have learned that in China compared to our public school system, parental involvement is higher. Parents in China have greater educational expectations for their children. Chinese parents place more emphasis on effort rather than emphasis on ability especially when attributing reasons for difficulty or failure. Chinese parents accept the critical role of helping their children learn concepts if they are lagging in school. Involvement of Chinese parents is “back-stage/behind the scene”- they are more engaged in home-based activities to boost their child’s ability to learn.
Chinese parents make sure that their children complete their homework with perfection. In China, education ethics begins with parents. Mother will actually attend school; takes note; to observe the child-teacher relationship and the child’s behavior towards learning (International Journal of Social Sciences 26-35). Chinese parents are engaged more in cultural practice that honored the professional expertise of teachers and the need to access skills for successful access to social mobility while at the same time they sought to maintain the cultural integrity of their community. In India, the framework of the parental involvement in India’s Education System is defined as controlled by the individual parent, parental school board or the tribal council. Like in many eastern Asian countries education is of highest value that parents could provide for their children. While the authority for overseeing the whole education system lies on federal trust, the responsibility for Indian people remains with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, all agenda pertaining education is directed to include laws and regulations that impact the whole public school system (Warner 4-18).
While the Middle Class Americans parents encourage their children to nurture their talent with various activities that will later give them a head start. These parents exposed their children on how to interact in a structured setting. Other parent’s get involves in their children’s life by having an open communication with their children’s teachers. They get involved in the academic process, school activities and other extra-curricular activities that the child is interested with. The Working Class American parents on the other hand relies on the natural growth of the child, giving the child the opportunity to make their own choices to keep their time occupied, that most engaged themselves with video games and social networking media like Facebook and Twitter. These children learn at their own phase and eventually losing their focus interest in learning and in the traditional population like in the case of the Hawaiians, parents tend to provide their children a non-stimulating environment. They often are unaware that their child-rearing practices can affect their children’s cognitive and language development.
They fail to appreciate the importance of playing and chatting with their children because they are unaware of the age-appropriate activities to do with their children. Many of these parents inhibit exploration putting emphasis on discipline, obedience, and respect for elders, religious beliefs and cultural observance (Sheehey 3-15). Both the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services note, “The role of mother as well as father is necessary in the development and academic success of a child.” Mothers and fathers often bring different strengths and style to their parenting roles. Children benefit significantly in many areas when fathers and mothers are actively engaged. These advantages are the building blocks for success that begins from birth and lasts into adulthood. According to research gathered by the Minnesota Fathers and Families Network some of these benefits include: (1) social skills – children grown with greater empathy, less gender role stereotyping and higher self-esteem.
In cases where fathers are actively engaged children have more self-control and less impulsive behaviors; (2) excel in problem-solving – children have less hesitance and fear in new situations because, acceptance and confidence are instilled, increase curiosity to learning, increase exploration of the world around them and these children have greater tolerance for success and frustration because of the nurturing and love that they have received in their childhood; (3) cognitive benefits – higher math competence when fathers dynamically participates in the children’s homework and class activity, overall verbal competence and early literacy because parents effort to reading and story-telling leads to children’s interest towards reading and ultimately all these concerted efforts eventually leads to higher grade completion and income overall. To some parents who take time to attend meetings, conferences and participates in school activities and events are teaching their children the value of setting priorities and giving importance to the development of their children’s social life.
These parents are teaching their children to be socially aware, responsible, and work for the betterment of the community. “Our future rest on the quality of children we are raising” (Elium 1-35). These also teach the children to value education. Seeing their parents giving up their time to be in school and get involve completes their development as a whole. For our goal in sending our children to school is for them to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually fit to the society where we belong. We raise our children to better leaders, better care-takers of our environment, better citizens of our society and better parents for our future generation. My personal experience has also convinced me that parental involvement play a vital role in education. This is the story of my medically challenged daughter; Bethany Joy who really exemplifies that role of parental involvement truly is beneficial. She was born prematurely, 29 weeks GA, with low birth weight.
She suffered from an intraventricular hemorrhage Grade III meaning, the three chambers or the ventricles bleed 10 days after birth. Her neonatologist and neurologist said that secondary to the severity of the brain damage, she will not be able to walk and talk. A periventricular shunt was implanted to act as the vertebral column where her cerebrospinal fluid will flow. Knowing her prognosis, my husband and I decided that is she will pull through with all this other medical complications that I will have to quit my job. We were determined to defy all the doctors’ perceptions. We nurtured her in a loving environment, made few advances on her therapy sessions, made every effort to read, sing, and played with her and eventually she came out victorious.
Talking before she turned one and walking at 13 months. She had undergone five brain surgeries and five other minor surgeries but she is in a regular school and has been one of the recipients of the Academic Honor Student for the past six years at her school. So, now it is safe to conclude that parents’ participation in their child’s education is far more vital in the success of the child’s education. “Our involvement as parents can mold the child’s interest towards learning” (Eliun 1-35). So, let’s make a difference in our children’s lives, to create a better society and life for our children in the generations to come.