A Child's No. 1 Need: 'Engaged' Parents
is it about parents of kids who are academically successful? Are the parents
well-educated themselves? Or rich? Or do they nag their kids to do their
homework more than most parents? What's the "competitive edge"?
educational attainment and adequate family income are both associated with
school success for children. More specific behaviors by parents, such as volunteering
in the classroom and helping with homework, are very important components of
good parental involvement in education. But they're not the most important one.
advantage for academically successful children is parental engagement. It has to do with investing your attention and
efforts into furthering your child's education, and usually involves things
that you do both at home and at school.
of engagement has nothing to do with marriage or a diamond ring. It has nothing
to do with parental education or income. It's a matter of parental attitude. It
has to do with structuring your home and your relationship with your child so
that your child is engaged in school:
· motivated to
· good work
· high but
achievable goals and self-expectations
in his or her interactions and citizenship, with adults, their peers and the
"Disengagement" with school is strongly related to other problems, and it
is tending to happen at an earlier and earlier age. How many adolescents do you
know who are no longer engaged in learning? The news and the statistics show us
the consequences: drug and alcohol use, skipping school, tardiness, bad
attitude, detentions, delinquency, depression, premarital sex, and other ills
that reduce each child's success and future prospects.
However, there are certain things
that good parents do that create students who are engaged in their own
learning. It happens because those parents are engaged in that student's life.
Both on purpose
and unintentionally, just by what they say and do, engaged parents let their
child know that school and learning are very important.
respect for, and value in, school by their level of involvement: volunteering, getting
to know the teacher, participating in parent-teacher conferences, attending
school functions, helping with their child's homework, and so on.
Their homes are
neither too permissive, nor too controlling. The grownups are in charge. Rules,
and the consequences for breaking them, are clear, reasonable and consistent.
Neatness and order count, but there is creativity and fun, too. The style of
parenting is warm, encouraging, firm, and accepting of individual differences.
The communication is characterized by guidance and instruction, not yelling and
screaming, nor silence, nor silliness. Engaged parents are dedicated to
creating a child who has good self-control, has lots of life skills as well as
learning skills, has good character, is socially responsible, and is on the way
Homework: See the
book by Laurence Steinberg, Beyond the