Parents’ discounted role in educational transformation

The significance of parental involvement in producing positive effects on the learning of children can’t be overlooked. It is proved through different studies that parents’ engagement with their children at home and at school considerably improves their academic grades.

Parental involvement it can be categorised into two main groups : (1) home-based involvement , which refers to what parents do at home to promote their children’s learning; (2) School-based involvement , which is basically defined by activities and behaviour parents engage in at school, such as interacting with teachers , and attending school events .    Unfortunately in our society, most of the parents do not attach importance to the idea of involving themselves in the learning process of their children. Teachers are generally considered as sole responsibly for learning outcomes . Admittedly, teachers’ role is very important , but dismissing the significance of parental role in this context is not going to help us raise the standards of education here.

Being an educator, I have witnessed that the relatives of just five to ten students, in a classroom of 100-plus students, come to inquire about the academic performance of their children . While others do not even bother to visit the school and meet their children’s teachers. What learning output can they expect if they themselves are not ready to spare some time for their children?

The engagement of parents in education is helpful in diverse ways . To begin with, this helps in ensuring students’ attendance in the classroom. A report by Johns Hopkins University (JHU), USA , posits that the communication between parents and teachers helps reduce student absenteeism by 24 percent. One can wonder why the attendance of students in the classrooms of a private school remains high, while in that of a public school it remains low. The obvious reason is that the parents of the students enrolled in private schools themselves accompany their children to and from school. While in the case of the students of government schools, sadly it is not so.

Also the interaction of parents with teachers  is productive in enhancing learning outcomes in classrooms. When a student knows that through the teacher his or her performance is being monitored by their parents, the student then tries to yield good performance in order to please his  or her parents. Anne Handerson and Nancy Berla in their book , A New Generation of Evidence ; The Family Is Critical to Student Achievement write that more the contact between teacher and parents higher the performance rate of the classroom will be.

Besides,  the  behaviour of children can also be positively moulded . When parents look over the activities of their children at home and inquire from their teachers about their behaviour in school then there remains no other option for the children than that of preventing themselves from indulging in unacceptable activities.

Another advantage is the creation of confidence and motivation in students. According to Hong S in his book A Cord of Three Strands: A New Approach to Parent Engagement in Schools, confidence and motivation in students increase when they find someone available for help in order to remove their confusion and answer questions related to their academic work . The author says that parental involvement can play the most effective role here.

The teachers’ performance also improves as they naturally tend to get recognition for their work which they become able to get by satisfying the parents . Moreover, the efficiency of the school administration also increases in order to minimize the chances of any complaint by a parent.

There are some challenges in the way of fostering the trend of parental involvement in education. Firstly , it is illiteracy. Most of the parents of students studying in government schools are not literate enough to know the importance of involving themselves in the education of their children . It’s a gigantic task, yet imperative enough to be done , to educate parents on the ins and outs of how to be involved and why it is important. Arrangement of awareness programmes with some incentives attached , such as food and other prizes , can help in this context. Secondly, the administrations of most schools do not tend to create an environment in schools that could promote teacher-parent contact. This is due to ignorance of the value of parental involvement.

It is necessary to carry out training programmes for heads of schools so as to teach them the importance of the role of parents in the learning of students. Head teachers can arrange for parent-teacher meetings, can invite parents, though necessarily not all of them, in sports activities of students, can invite them for award ceremonies of students and other events.

Most teachers are also seemingly disinclined to accommodate the idea of parental involvement . They consider it as an intervention in their work and a useless practice; seeing it as a waste of time. The attitude of teachers to the visiting parents is also to some extent responsible for low parental involvement in schools.

Teachers will have to understandingly allow space for parental engagement in schools.. Teachers can arrange periodic meetings with parents . If it is not possible they can communicate with them in a digital way (such as by mail, text, social media) Fourthly, over- crowded classrooms in public schools also create hindrance in the way of promotion of teacher-parents interaction. In most of the public schools, especially in Sindh province, classes consist of more than 100 students. It is difficult for teachers to communicate with the parents of each and every student.

The focus of educational authorities should be to limit the number of students in every class to a maximum of 30 . Last but not the least , accessibility of schools is also a barrier . A large number of public school students have to come from far off places. Their fathers need to go to work to earn some livelihood for them . Hence it becomes difficult for them to visit the school. These parents can give time to their children at home. And also they can contact the teachers by mobile or other digital means. If we want to raise the standard of education , we will have to recognise the importance of the role of parents in educational uplift . Without ensuring their involvement in learning processes no considerable dividends can be earned.

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M. Ilyas Kalhoro
M. Ilyas Kalhoro
The writer is an educator and an independent educational researcher from Lahori Muhalla, Larkana

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