Parents and Education

What Role Do Parents Play in Their Child's Education?

Mother walking with son to school. Julia Wheeler and Veronika Laws/ Taxi/ Getty Images

It seems obvious to say, but parents play a huge role in their child's education. I would argue that in the secondary school setting most of their influence is felt in their attitude towards education and school. While the following quote from "The Teacher and the School" published in 1910 might be dated in some way, it still holds a lot of truth:

If the parents of any community are indifferent to the best interests and the proper training of their children, if they elect unfit men as school officers, if they permit petty quarrels and jealousies to interfere with the administration of the school, if they try to run the schools on the cheapest basis, if they encourage tardiness, irregular attendance, and insubordination in their children, then the schools of the community may be little better than training places in shiftless habits, incompetence, disregard for the law, and even positive immorality.

In other words, it's not so much about parents understanding the material and helping students when they have difficulties that is of utmost importance. Instead, it is the way that parents talk about school and education. If they make comments that support the teacher, the school, and learning in general, then students will have a greater chance of success. Of course there is a lot more to student success than this. However, to give their children the greatest chance, they have to have an attitude that learning and school is a good and positive thing.

Ways Parents Hinder Education

Parents and family can hinder their child's education by both overt and subtle means. Many times in my life I've overheard parents talk to their children about their school or their teacher in terms that would make anyone lose respect for it. For example, I've heard parents tell their children they don't have to listen to a teacher because they are wrong. I've heard parents allow their students to skip school with their friends. (But Mom, it's the first day of spring, etc...)

There are also many subtle ways that parents hinder education. If they allow students to complain without trying to show them the positives of education. If they allow their child to blame their actions on their teachers. In fact, simply supporting their child without learning all the facts and accusing the teachers of wrongdoing can cause students to lose respect for the school. This does not mean that there are not bad teachers, because there are. What I'm talking about is a situation like I experienced in my first year. I had a student call me a bi@*$ in the middle of class. This was the first time I'd ever had a student be so belligerent. I wrote a discipline referral for the student. Later, that afternoon I received a phone call from the girl's mother. Her first comment was, "What did you do to MAKE my daughter call you a bi@*&?" What is that teaching the student?

Ways Parents Can Help Education

Similarly, if a student gets in trouble with a teacher, it is important to get all the facts. As a parent of school-aged children, it is important for me to remember that when he brings home a t uncommon for a parent to say that they "never lie." However, before basing your accusations on a teacher simply on what a child says, go to the teacher and hear what they have to say.

You can learn more from this article: How Parents and Teachers Benefit From Parental Involvement in Education.

Much of being supportive with a school is simply having a positive attitude towards education in general. Everyone has good and bad teachers. If you have a problem with their child's teacher, it is important to go to the school and have a parent-teacher conference. You might even need to discuss the fact that not all teachers are the same with your student and give them extra support. But this should not be the norm. By being supportive of education, you give your child positive messages and provide them with one less reason to "hate" school.