A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children's Learning
Benefits of Family Involvement in Education
Families are considered the primary context of children's development. Whether children are "ready" for school and experience success throughout their school career depends, in large part, on their physical well-being, social development, cognitive skills and knowledge and how they approach learning (NCES, 2000). Family characteristics and home experiences also contribute to this readiness and later success. If families don't provide the necessary support and resources that their children need to increase their chances of succeeding in school, their children are placed at increased risk for school failure (Macoby, 1992).
It is well documented that family involvement is a "win/win" for both students and schools. Thirty years of research shows that students benefit by achieving higher grades, better attendance and homework completion, more positive attitudes toward school, higher graduation rates and greater enrollment in college.
Enhanced performance can be measured by such things as a student getting mostly As, his or her enjoyment of school and his or her involvement in extracurricular activities. These last two measures are probably as important as the first. After all, children who enjoy school are more likely to perform better academically and to remain in school (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). And, participation in extracurricular activities reduces the risk of poor behavior, dropping out of school, becoming a teen parent and using drugs (Zill, Nord & Loomis, 1995).
Schools benefit by improved teacher morale, higher ratings of teachers by parents, more support from families and better reputations in the community (Henderson & Berla, 1994).
What Our Children Tell Us
- From an 18-year-old: "They (parents) were extremely involved because they had such a stake in it. My dad would go to PTA meetings. They have always wanted to get involved, always making sure that I was getting everything out of the school that I could. I'm extremely glad now because I think it did a lot to shape me." (Galinsky, 1999)
- From a 12-year-old: "I miss him. He's gone for short times. He calls from where he is. I'd rather have him at home during that time, but I know he has to do it because it's part of his job." (Galinsky, 1999)
- "I can't spend much time with him because he's working. Sometimes I go with him to work on the weekends. But I just wish that he wouldn't work so much." (Galinsky, 1999)
- From a 14-year-old: "If a child has something to say, listen to them. They might teach you something." (Galinsky, 1999)
- From a 17-year-old about a nonresident father: "I get very angry at him. There're some things that I think he should do, but he doesn't. My school is really family oriented; we have Mother-Daughter this, Father-Daughter that. I would invite him and he'd be like, 'No, I don't want to go,' and it's like well, I mean, I think we should. It's like we don't have quality time really, cause I mean we don't spend time together like that." (Galinsky, 1999)
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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