Mention “parents support group” and many parents with school-going kids will say: Sorry, no time. But it turns out that joining the parents support group can help your kid’s success in school, says Sandra Davie, the senior education correspondent at The Straits Times.
Here’s what she says:
Research overseas and locally has shown that the more parents are involved in their children’s education, the better their children perform in school.
Studies show that children whose parents are more involved enjoy school more and have better school attendance. They are also more emotionally and socially well adjusted and better able to handle stress.
Similarly, studies show that children with involved fathers are better academic achievers and have better numeracy and verbal skills.
Involved parents make a difference
A National Institute of Education (NIE) study found that parents’ active engagement in their children’s education, which makes a difference in how well their children perform in school. The survey was done with 150 high-income couples.
NIE lecturer Lana Khong Yiu Lan, who did the study, found that children whose parents did not leave everything to tutors, or who gave up their jobs for their offspring’s sake, often did well in examinations.
Such parents are often seen in or around school, trying to stay informed about the latest developments in education from the principal and other parents. They also chat with neighbours whose children have good grades, seeking their advice on tutors and what enrichment programmes their children should take.
Dr Khong studied high-income families because she wanted to see how well-educated parents in the top 20 per cent of earners allocated resources and time to their children’s education.
Her aim was to find out whether the way in which they helped their children could be applied to the less well-off. She concluded that the most important ingredients for good school performance are family involvement, sacrifice and awareness of educational matters.
Every bit helps
Don’t feel that your kids will be deprived if you’re not as well-off, says Sandra. She suggests using community libraries and subsidised tuition programmes run by community self-help groups to give your kids that extra edge.
Make sure you spend quality and quantity time with your kids to build good relationships with them.
There are many simple, everyday things that you can do to become more engaged in your kid’s learning. For a start, ask them about their day in school. This signals to your kids that you are interested in their schooling and think that it is important. Don’t be one of those parents who just ask sabout their scores in tests and exams.
Make your home a learning-friendly environment, without TV and other distractions, so they can complete their homework.
Visit your kid’s school early in the year to meet the teachers and principal so that you can establish a mutual relationship of respect and trust, rather than wait for your kid to perform poorly or misbehave.
Make friends with other parents
Education experts also suggest that you make friends with other parents in your kid’s class or school. The parental grapevine is very useful for sharing information and ideas. And one of the best things that any parent can do is to become a volunteer in school, Sandra says.
Your presence in school conveys an important message to your kid about the value placed on schooling. Being in school also gives you a good understanding of what the school community is like, the specific context that your children operate in every day, and the challenges that teachers face.
But if being in school is not possible because of work or other commitments, look for other ways to help from home, such as editing the school newsletter. –
A version of this story first appeared in The Straits Times.