There is no denying the influence that parents, as primary caregivers, have on children’s growth and development. Part of this lifespan development includes learning through observation of other (especially significant) people’s behaviors, emotional reactions and attitudes. The implication is that parents help mold children’s choices and behaviors, and whose involvement in the academic lives of their children can lead to positive educational outcomes as highlighted by Lau (2013). Fundamentally, the lack of parental involvement (PI) in the education of their children can limit the vision of schools and inhibit students’ motivation and creativity, thus affecting their educational achievement. As such, the development of relevant parent involvement policies and programs should be a priority for schools if positive academic outcomes by students remains the overarching goal in education. This is more so urgent at present especially because many parents are focused on their occupations and careers, leading to relegation of caregiving responsibilities to other people and reduction in involvement in their children’s lives, including education-wise.
Parental Involvement in Education: A Summary
Research on parental involvement in education by Lau (2013) recognizes that specific elements of PI must be identified if positive educational results are to be understood and replicated. However, Wilder (2014, p.377) indicates a positive relationship between PI and academic achievement ‘regardless of a definition of parental involvement or measure of achievement’. Nonetheless, Lau (2013) found a significant correlation between PI, academic outcomes (vocabulary skills) and familial factors (socio-emotional support) in reference to a methodological instrument produced by the author to measure actual parental involvement in children’s education. Factors constituting PI seem to be affirmed by Pavalache and Tirdia (2015) who found a strong association between PI and the level of students’ intrinsic motivation for reading and writing as well as their educational results. The potency of PI as a strategy for enhancing educational achievement is highlighted by the all-rounded support (physical, emotional) provided by parents. The associated impacts are shown by He, Gou and Chang (2015) as extending to positive predictions related not only to mastery and performance approached student goals but also reduced maladaptive behaviors. With a focus on inclusive education and children with special education needs (SEN), Afolabi (2014) found out that parental involvement is crucial to the emotional and social development of these children as well as in enhancing their academic accomplishments. Alongside benefits of academic achievement, among others, parental involvement is also tied to deficiencies of educational institutions in their provision of education as indicated by Stitt and Brooks (2014). Specifically, the deficiencies are ‘perceived to be…detrimental to their children’s overall social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual development as fully educated human beings’ (Stitt & Brooks 2014, p.75).
Parental Involvement in Education: Critical Analysis
That PI does help in enhancing children’s educational outcomes, considering the breadth of support provided by the parents, is undeniable as demonstrated by research on the subject (Lau 2013). With careers and occupations as well as other challenges taking more of many parent’s time, concern and effort, children are left to be guided primarily by teachers, themselves and their peers, in learning. This, as can be deduced in research on PI, is an urgent situation that must be addressed and changed especially when PI leads to greater intrinsic learning motivation as well as positive educational outcomes like writing, literacy, vocabulary skills, among others (Pavalache & Tirdia, 2015; He, Gou & Chang, 2015; Lau, 2013). However, some events such as volunteering and involvement in school events and councils, are more oriented towards affecting greater social development than academic achievement. As Pavalache & Tirdia, (2015, p.610) avers, ‘for many pupils, parental involvement is important for gaining recognition and raising self-esteem and respect’.
Nonetheless, this can be argued that they also contribute to overall mental development which is directly linked to academic achievement. Still, despite affirming the positive contributions of PI to academic achievement of children in relation to meta-analyses of relevant studies, Afolabi (2014, p.189) indicates that parent-school partnerships ‘must recognize differences in family orientation and needs’. This is among other potential challenges that may plague the efficacy of PI including cultural influences, educational attainment of parents as well as family income, which are some of the elements Lau (2013) advocates for consideration in measuring PI. Moreover, alongside acknowledgement of few, if not non-existent, number of studies focusing on PI and educational outcomes of SENs, Afolabi (2014) does not acknowledge difficulties that are already inherent in inclusive education and the impact of this environment on learning. Study limitations especially concerning generalizability of results and definition of concepts like student achievement and PI also seem to be limiting factors to be considered in linking PI to positive educational outcomes in consideration of elements like parent educational level, culture and language status as well as country of study (Pavalache & Tirdia 2015; He, Gou & Chang 2015; Afolabi 2014; Lau 2013; Wilder 2014).
Nevertheless, study limitations identified are not quite limiting even though they would have provided more information on the subject of PI in education (Afolabi, 2014; Lau, 2013). Still, affirmations of PI as a positive influence on academic achievement, which can be extended to SENs considering the generally higher level of PI, do indicate the importance of PI in education (Afolabi 2014). More so is the acknowledgement of parent’s literacy involvement as positively predicting student’s mastery and performance approach goals as well as negative predictions between performance approach goals and cheating and, disruption and help-avoidance (He, Gou & Chang, 2015). In addition, parents are shown to be full of convictions of what their children learning should be, which is a prerequisite for active involvement in their children’s education; with positive educational outcomes tied to their support and efforts (Stitt & Brooks, 2014; Afolabi, 2014; Lau, 2013).
- Afolabi, OE 2014, ‘Parents’ Involve and psycho-educational Development of Learners with Special Educational Needs (SENs): An Empirical Review’, International Journal Of Early Childhood Special Education, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 177-203
- He, T, Gou, W & Chang, S 2015, “Parental involvement and elementary school students’ goals, maladaptive behaviors, and achievement in learning English as a foreign language. Learning and Individual Differences, vol. 39, pp.205-210.
- Lau, W 2013, ‘Examining a Brief Measure of Parent Involvement in Children’s Education’, Contemporary School Psychology (California Association of School Psychologists), vol. 17, no.1, pp. 11-21
- Pavalache, M & Tirdia, F, 2015. “Parental Involvement and Intrinsic Motivation with Primary School”, Elsevier Science, Vol. 187, pp. 607-612.
- Stitt, N & Brooks, N 2014, “Reconceptualizing Parent Involvement. Schools: Studies in Education, vol. 11, no. 1, pp.75-101.
- Wilder, S 2014, “Effects of parental involvement on academic achievement: A meta-synthesis”, Educational Review, vol. 66, Iss. 3, pp. 377-397. DOI:10.1080/00131911.2013.780009