Happy New Year and welcome to another issue of Class Ideas. Research has proven what teachers already know ? that students whose parents are actively involved in their education do better in school. This month's article looks at what schools can do to encourage parent involvement. Because helping children with their math homework can be intimidating to some parents, many schools now hold a family math game night. It's a highly instructive and fun night out for all.
We're also offering a fantastic special on Didax games and other resources for family math night, as well as downloadable take-home activity pages and Internet links to resources that can help you initiate or fine-tune a parent involvement program in your school. We hope you'll find the information in this issue valuable in strengthening that important school-home connection.
Not surprisingly, research has confirmed that parents' involvement in their children?s education has a positive impact on children?s success in school. According to the U.S. Department of Education, ?research shows that adolescents do better in school when their parents are involved and that education works best when teachers and parents work closely with one another.?
A study conducted by the Harvard Family Research Project (HFRP) bears this out. HFRP conducted a meta-analysis of 77 research studies involving over 300,00 students to assess the impact of parental involvement on student achievement. The study reported: ?The results of the meta-analysis indicate that parental involvement is associated with higher student achievement outcomes. These findings emerged consistently whether the outcome measures were grades, standardized test scores, or a variety of other measures, including teacher ratings.?
Parent Involvement: What Works
What aspect of parental involvement had the greatest impact? Number one was setting high but not unrealistic expectations for the child?s achievement in school. Parental involvement that required a large investment of time, such as reading with the child, also had a significant, though lesser, impact. Programs designed to help parents become more involved in their children?s schooling worked, too, though they didn?t necessarily equal the impact of the involvement of parents who were already enthusiastic about supporting their child's educational progress.
How Schools Can Help
Since parental involvement is so beneficial to students? educational progress, it is important for schools to do everything they can to encourage and support that involvement. One U.S. Department of Education study found that the manner in which schools encourage parental participation was more predictive of parent involvement than family attributes such as marital status, family size, parents? level of education, or even socioeconomic status.
There are many things schools can do to foster that critical school-home connection. Just to name a few, schools can:
Train teachers to work with parents and to view them as partners in their children?s education.
Accommodate parents? work schedules when arranging parent-teacher meetings.
Arrange transportation for parents who don?t own a car.
Encourage active involvement in steering committees, on task forces, and in the school's parent-teacher association.
Create opportunities for parents to engage in joint learning opportunities with their children, such as having children write stories based on interviews with their parents and grandparents. Such assignments serve a two-fold purpose. Not only do teachers gain a greater understanding of their students? family and cultural backgrounds but parents realize that they don?t have to be knowledgeable in all subject areas to participate in their children?s education.
Family Math Night
Feelings of inadequacy can be one of the most potent barriers to parents? involvement in their children?s education. This can be especially true when the subject area is mathematics, since many adults finished school with a grasp of the material that was shaky at best. To address these deficits, many schools now offer a Family Math Night that aims to make math an enjoyable experience for parents and children alike.
One school participating in an EdTech ?Beyond the Textbook? grant reported: ?Parents realized from these Family Math Nights that math is more than memorizing rules. Parents had the opportunity to communicate with teachers about how math is being taught. They also had the opportunity to work on math activities with their children in a non-threatening environment. Parents went home with activities to encourage and further math at home.? Math games that encourage friendly competition between parents and their children add to the enjoyment, demonstrating that math can actually be, well, fun.
Didax Games to Consider
Didax offers a raft of games and other resources that are suitable for Family Math Night, including its award-winning ?Place Value Safari,? ?Product Parfait,? and the best-selling ?Dice Activities for Math? series. The new ?Math Skills Game? is a grade-level collection of 25 board games covering the NCTM standards for grades K?8. The game comes as both a classroom set and a take-home version to stimulate parent involvement. And for a game night that does not focus exclusively on math, ?Rhyming Lotto? and the new ?green? game ?Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? are two offerings that can really ramp up the fun.
Center for Public Policy Priorities: Measuring Up: The State of Texas: Parental Involvement in Education http://www.cppp.org/kidscount/education/parental_involvement.html
EVSC EdTech Grant, Beyond the Textbook: Family Math Night http://www.evscicats.com/edtech/communication/mathnight/
Harvard Family Research Project: Parental Involvement and Student Achievement: A Meta-Analysis http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/parental-involvement-and-student-achievement-a-meta-analysis
U.S. Department of Education: Parent Involvement ? Helping Your Child through Early Adolescence http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/partx2.html
The authors of Didax's best-selling Dice Activities series are about to prove that dice can be used to teach more than basic operations. Click below for a sneak preview of the soon-to-be published Dice Activities for Mathematical Thinking. The challenging and totally fun games in this book are sure to be a hit at Family Math Night.
When it comes to going green at school, the watch words are "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." Tune in next month for some seriously green tips on maximizing your green program at school. We'll also have a great special on a new Didax game that can really help to raise kids' awareness of what it means to "go green."