Children spend more than 70% of their waking hours outside of school. Much of the non-school life of children is spent in the home or out of the home with their parents or caregivers.
Parents are the primary influencers of young children and it is important for educators to maximize the benefits of their influence.
The development of cognitive and social skills needed for success throughout life begins in the home. In their first year of life, the cognitive development of children benefits greatly from responsive parenting (Landry, 2008), and the responsive parent continues to greatly influence development throughout early and middle childhood. Responsive parenting refers to family interactions in which parents are aware of their children’s emotional and physical needs and respond appropriately and consistently. Sensitive parents are “in tune” with their children. They understand individual developmental and temperamental differences, respond quickly and appropriately to their children, and provide encouragement and support during times of distress (Farrell, et al, 2016).
Research establishes, unequivocally, that parent engagement has
a positive impact on students’ academic achievement, behavior in school, and
attitudes about school and work.”
ERNEST L. BOYER, N.D.
The engagement of children in learning activities is fostered by affective-emotional behaviors that communicate the parent’s interest and acceptance. This builds self-regulation and cooperation, which are critically important behaviors that support effective learning. Cognitively supportive behaviors such as responsive and rich verbal input facilitate higher levels of learning because they provide a structure or scaffold for the young child’s immature skills. They bolster the development of attentional and cognitive capacities (Tomasello & Farrar, 1986). In this environment, children learn to assume a more active and independent role in the learning process.
Parental involvement provides the security and support needed by children as they enter formal schooling. The challenges of being part of a group rather than the center of attention, coping with new stresses and new relationships, and engaging in active learning are all mitigated by parental support. As a result, children whose parents stay involved are more likely to have higher self-esteem, be disciplined, have more self-motivation and tend to achieve better grades, regardless of their ethnic, social or racial backgrounds.
When you involve parents and caregivers in your classroom, through activities such as family reading time or student sharing, you also build or restore the parents’ confidence in their children’s education and care away from home.