Communication Details: Parents and TeachersResearch Paper

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Communication Connections

Denice Bryant

The task of improving communication between all parties involved in education is an intensive one. It's important to see what teachers can do to improve communication among the three major parties of the educational experience: the teacher, the student and the parent. This is so vital because achievement and success of the student really does depend upon having parents who are involved in their schoolwork. For instance, one obvious example of this is the fact that parents need to make reading a priority in the home. Once parents show their children that they value reading, and take the time to read to children, that's when children learn the lesson that reading is valuable and important. This paper examines the nuances of parental involvement in education and finds that there is a direct relationship between parental involvement and child academic success: the more involvement that parents have in the scholastic journey of their children the higher likelihood that children will succeed and thrive. As this paper will demonstrate, it is the responsibility of the teacher to take initiative and to take advantage of the various ways that parents can get involved.

Before any of this is able to occur, however, there needs to be rock solid elements of teacher-parent-student communication in ways which help to further the goals of the school (Hornby, 2011). Teachers should really be the ones responsible for opening and initiating the particular avenues of communication, by distinguishing what they in fact are, and creating the expectation that parents are expected to follow them. Strong pillars of student-parent-teacher communication help to fulfill student goals and act as prominent guideposts of student educational development. For example, researchers found that "…frequent teacher-family communication immediately increased student engagement as measured by homework completion rates, on-task behavior, and class participation. On average, teacher-family communication increased the odds that students completed their homework by 40%, decreased instances in which teachers had to redirect students' attention to the task at hand by 25%, and increased class participation rates by 15%" (Kraft & Doughtery, 2012). Thus, because the benefits of frequent teacher-parent interaction cannot be underestimated, it's up to the teacher to take the reins, such as creating a sign-off sheet or journal for homework, along with websites that all three parties to check in with the school work as its being completed and the order in which it is being done. Websites that allow students to receive and display homework praise are other ways that parents can get involved.

Building relationships between parents and teachers is one important way that students can be supported in this vital triad of communication. As Anita Hoy has found, partnerships are often key to academic success: partnerships between parents and teachers can lead to higher levels of scholastic achievement in students, the same way partnerships between teachers and administrators can (2009). There need to be vehicles of support for teachers and parents to forge strong bonds outside of traditional conferences. In this current day and age of high tech applications, there are easier ways for parents and teachers to communicate and stay in touch. "A growing number of K-12 teachers are turning to free online and mobile applications to communicate and collaborate with busy parents who want to know what's going on in class and how their students are performing, and who want to give feedback to teachers in a way that's accessible to them" (McCrea, 2013). More and more teachers are discovering that such collaborative apps can help to remove the burden off the instructor who would otherwise have to develop streams of one-way communications like newsletters or emails or update their websites weekly. For example, a website like BuzzMob allows parents and teachers to communicate along a specific network that requires authorization before a user can view the latest news (McCrea, 2013). This is a type of app that allows for quick updates as one is off in the field, without the necessity of sitting at a computer updating one's app. This allows educators to eventually start encouraging student to join the app and chat and post as well.

As beneficial as these high-tech solutions are, and as important a place there is for them in the world, in-person parental involvement is still absolutely crucial. In-person involvement helps to create the crucial levels of trust among students towards their educators that allows learning to flourish (Hoy, 2009). As Hoy and researchers have found, student perception of educators is crucial (2009). There needs to be a strong atmosphere of trust and capability which allow learning to flourish: parental involvement can help such elements to thrive. (Hoy, 2009). Volunteering still remains a crucial though traditional avenue for parental involvement which needs to be used even today. "When schools provide opportunities for parents to volunteer, families are enabled to share their time and talent to support the school, classrooms, teachers, students, and their child. Volunteering does not have to take place within the school or classroom walls; it can also take place within other parts of the district, community, or home" (dpi.state.nd.us). For example, parents can help assist in the school library, the lunch rooms, or the computer rooms at school. Likewise, they can volunteer their time on afterschool trips, be an audience member at student performances while assisting with extra-curricular activities and celebrations. Having parents be a regular fixture at school events or in day-to-day activities in the school is able to foster a more heightened sense of accountability and responsibility in the school in general. This is something one can truly not put a price on. Harnessing parental involvement is something which can strengthen the school relationships in general while sending a clear message to students that parents care about the students and the results of their education. When it comes to the most effective model of parental involvement in scholastic education, the partnership model is one which can help children thrive beyond a shadow of a doubt: "This is one in which professionals are viewed as experts in education and parents are viewed as experts on their children. The relationship between professionals and parents can then be a partnership that involves the sharing of expertise and control to provide the optimum education for children" (Hornby, 2011).

With consistent parental involvement, the benefits for students are clear as the research as demonstrated constantly that children essentially achieve more academically when their parents are more involved with their school environments (Olsen, 2010). What's so notable about this sense of achievement is via the fact that it occurs "regardless of ethnic or racial background, socioeconomic status, or parents' education level" (Olsen, 2010). This translates to higher levels of self-esteem for children, higher amounts of self-discipline, and higher aspirations and motivations towards their academic careers in general (Olsen, 2010). Children can then foster a positive attitude towards education which they can keep for life and this can translate to less disciplinary problems along with a less aggravated need for discipline and special education (Olsen, 2010). The benefits can be reaped by all students in such cases.

The reasons as to why parents decide to become involved -- or not -- are often multi-faceted. With single parent homes on the rise in America, parents are often juggling the burden and stress of attempting to balance a career against the balance of having a child in school. There simply are not enough hours in the day and parents become overwhelmed. It can be too easy to start to view the child's school as less of an institution used to better the child's educational and academic development, and more as a vehicle of childcare. Parents simply don't have the time to manage the obligations they have at work with their obligations for child-rearing, and simply the act of checking their child's homework becomes the bare minimum that they can provide. The notion of volunteering their time at their child's school becomes viewed as an impossible luxury. Simply because they don't have the free time to spend. These are the parents who are incredibly well-meaning and they would give more of their time if they could give more of their time to their kids' scholastic achievement -- they simply don't have the time to give. On the other hand, there are also the parents who simply aren't interested in being parents: these are the ones who can barely handle or manage the realities of being a parent and the notion of extending their time and their interests to their child's scholastic achievement is simply something that does not appeal to them. These parents see the education for their children as someone else's responsibility and problem.

The bottom line is that researchers agree: parental involvement is priceless when it comes to the ability of students to thrive and to benefit. However, not all parental involvement is created equal, nor should it be treated as equal. For example, some academics think that the most prized parental involvement which can occur is when… [END OF PREVIEW]

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