Increased parental involvement means increased student success in school.

Parent Involvement in Inner-City Schools

by Freddie Silver

Most inner-city school parents want their children to succeed in school, but they often find it difficult to become involved. Understanding the benefits of parental involvement, and the reasons for the lack of inner-city school parent involvement, can help parents and schools improve their relationship and increase student success.

Why Parent Involvement in School is Desirable

Researchers at the University of Washington report that parent involvement in school is linked to increased academic achievement and social competence. The positive effects of parent involvement start with early childhood education and carry on through the teen years. The Center on Innovation and Improvement reports that the benefits to children with involved parents includes less delinquent behavior, better attitude toward school, attendance and behavior, and being better prepared for class. The center also found that teens with involved parents engage less in risky behaviors such as taking drugs or violence.

Reasons for Lack of Involvement in Inner-city Schools

Inner-city school parents are often reluctant to become active at their child's school because they feel ineffective, cut off from the school system and don't feel they have a role to play, according to a 2000 study published in the journal "The Qualitative Report." They might feel they don't belong because of ethnic differences, or language and cultural barriers. They might feel intimidated by the teachers and administrators, often because they are only contacted by the school when their child is in trouble. A University of Michigan study found that many inner-city students live in single-parent families and the over-worked parent doesn't have time to become involved in school activities.

Ways that Parents Can Be Involved in Schools

Parental involvement in school can take many forms, ranging from helping children with their homework to actively working in partnership with teachers. Inner-city parents can have a positive influence by demonstrating their interest in their children's education by engaging in regular, daily discussions with their children about what they've done in school each day.

How Inner-city Schools Can Increase Parent Involvement

Many inner-city school administrators recognize the extra effort necessary to involve parents in their community and actively reach out to them. This might include translating weekly newsletters into a variety of languages or providing babysitting services at the school during events such as parent-teacher conferences. It's important to schedule such events at times that best fit the parents' schedules. Personal invitations to the school, made by other parents, can help increase participation at special events. Home visits by teachers can also have a positive effect. It's also important for teachers to contact parents early in the school year with good news to establish a positive relationship.

About the Author

Freddie Silver started writing newsletters for the Toronto District School Board in 1997. Her areas of expertise include staff management and professional development. She holds a master's degree in psychology from the University of Toronto and is currently pursuing her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, focusing on emotions and professional relationships.

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