Where Children Spend Their Time

School age children spend 70% of their waking hours (including weekends and holidays) outside of school.1

When Parents Should Get Involved

The earlier in a child's educational process parent involvement begins, the more powerful the effects.2 The most effective forms of parent involvement are those, which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home.3

86% of the general public believes that support from parents is the most important way to improve the schools.4Lack of parental involvement is the biggest problem facing public schools.5 Decades of research show that when parents are involved students have6:

  • Higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates

  • Better school attendance

  • Increased motivation, better self-esteem

  • Lower rates of suspension

  • Decreased use of drugs and alcohol

  • Fewer instances of violent behavior

Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students' academic success as family socioeconomic status. Some of the more intensive programs had effects that were 10 times greater than other factors.7 The more intensely parents are involved, the more beneficial the achievement effects.8 The more parents participate in schooling, in a sustained way, at every level—in advocacy, decision-making and oversight roles, as fund-raisers and boosters, as volunteers and paraprofessionals, and as home teachers—the better for student achievement.9 Parent Expectations and Student Achievement

The most consistent predictors of children's academic achievement and social adjustment are parent expectations of the child's academic attainment and satisfaction with their child's education at school10. Parents of high-achieving students set higher standards for their children's educational activities than parents of low-achieving students.11

Major Factors of Parent Involvement

Three major factors of parental involvement in the education of their children12:

  1. Parents' beliefs about what is important, necessary and permissible for them to do with and on behalf of their children;

  2. The extent to which parents believe that they can have a positive influence on their children's education; and

  3. Parents' perceptions that their children and school want them to be involved.

Type of Involvement

Although most parents do not know how to help their children with their education, with guidance and support, they may become increasingly involved in home learning activities and find themselves with opportunities to teach, to be models for and to guide their children.13 When schools encourage children to practice reading at home with parents, the children make significant gains in reading achievement compared to those who only practice at school14. Parents, who read to their children, have books available, take trips, guide TV watching, and provide stimulating experiences contribute to student achievement.15

Families whose children are doing well in school exhibit the following characteristics16:


  1. Establish a daily family routine. Examples: Providing time and a quiet place to study, assigning responsibility for household chores, being firm about bedtime and having dinner together.

  2. Monitor out-of-school activities. Examples: Setting limits on TV watching, checking up on children when parents are not home, arranging for after-school activities and supervised care.

  3. Model the value of learning, self-discipline, and hard work. Examples: Communicating through questioning and conversation, demonstrating that achievement comes from working hard.

  4. Express high but realistic expectations for achievement. Examples: Setting goals and standards that are appropriate for children's age and maturity, recognizing and encouraging special talents, informing friends and family about successes.

  5. Encourage children's development/progress in school. Examples: Maintaining a warm and supportive home, showing interest in children's progress in school, helping with homework, discussing the value of a good education and possible career options, staying in touch with teachers and school staff.

  6. Encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members. Examples: Reading, listening to children read and talking about what is being read.

Student Interest

Most students at all levels-elementary, middle, and high school-want their families to be more knowledgeable partners about schooling and are willing to take active roles in assisting communications between home and school.17 When parents come to school regularly, it reinforces the view in the child's mind that school and home are connected and that school is an integral part of the whole family's life.18

School and District Leadership

The strongest and most consistent predictors of parent involvement at school and at home are the specific school programs and teacher practices that encourage parent involvement at school and at home are the specific school programs and teacher practices that encourage parent involvement at school and guide parents in how to help their children at home.19

School initiated activities to help parents change the home environment can have a strong influence on children's school performance.20 Parents need specific information on how to help and what to do.21


Federal and State Requirements

Parent involvement components are required in the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and various federal and state education programs including Early On, Michigan School Readiness Program and Title 1.


School activities to develop and maintain partnerships with families decline with each grade level, and drop dramatically at the transition to middle grades.22 Teachers often think that low-income parents and single parents will not or cannot spend as much time helping their children at home as do middle-class parents with more education and leisure time.23

1Clark, R.M. (1990). Why Disadvantaged Children Succeed. Public Welfare (Spring): 17-23.

2Cotton, K., Wikelund, K., Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, School Improvement Research Series. In Parent Involvement in Education

3Cotton, K., Wikelund, K., Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, School Improvement Research Series. In Parent Involvement in Education

4Rose, Gallup, & Elam, 1997 

5Rose, Gallup, & Elam, 1997 

6Parent Teacher Association 

7Walberg (1984) in his review of 29 studies of school–parent programs

8Cotton, K., Wikelund, K., Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, School Improvement Research Series. In Parent Involvement in Education

9Williams, D.L. & Chavkin, N.F. (1989). Essential elements of strong parent involvement programs. Educational Leadership, 47, 18-20 

10Reynolds, et, al., (6)

11Clark (7:85-105)

121997 Review of Educational Research, a journal of the American Educational Research Association 

13Roberts, 1992. In Online Resources for Parent/Family Involvement. ERIC Digest by Ngeow, Karen Yeok-Hwa, 1999

14Tizard, J.; Schofield, W.N.; & Hewison, J. (1982). Collaboration Between Teachers and Parents in Assisting Children’s Reading

15Sattes (5:2)

16Henderson (1:9)

17Epstein, 1995, p. 703 

18Steinberg (8)

19Dauber and Epstein (11:61)

20Leler, H. (1983) Parent Education and Involvement in Relation to the Schools and to Parents of School-aged Children.

21Morton-Williams, R. “The Survey of Parental Attitude and Circumstances, 1964.”

22Epstein, J.L. (1992) School and Family Partnerships

23Epstein J.L. (1984, March). Single Parents and Schools: The effects of marital status Parent and Teacher Evaluations. Clark, R.M. (1990). Why Disadvantaged Children Succeed. Public Welfare (Spring): 17-23.