Getting Parents Involved in Their Child’s Education

Compared to the media attention given to what teachers and schools can and should do to improve education, parents have sometimes seemed like an afterthought.  Maybe no more, as a New York Times article highlights a couple reports recently published about how parents can help their children succeed at school. 

The article summarizes findings from the Program for International Student Association (PISA) and their assessment of the parenting practices of 5,000 15 year old adolescents from 14 countries as well as a recent report from the Center for Public Education called Back to School: How Parent Involvement Affects Student Achievement.

Summarizing, improved school performance performance was found to be related to the following:

1)    Whether or not parents regularly read with their children when they were in elementary school.  This finding held even when controlling for socioeconomic background

2)    Having regular discussions with your child about current events and activities (politics, art, social issues, colleges)

3)    Monitoring and reinforcing things like homework, school attendance, and good performance

One important take home message here that primary care clinicians can convey to parents is that relatively simple measures demonstrating that a parent cares about their child’s school day can have a measurable effect.  Thus, even when we are completely useless in our ability to help our kids with their trigonometry homework, we can still promote academic success.

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