It’s December! The holiday season! The end of the year! And, for millions of parents and students all over the world, it’s the halftime of the school season. This is the time when parents can usher their kids into the proverbial locker room, assess the good and bad of their performance and get revved up to win in the second half. But, the question is: how many parents are doing that? How many parents are not letting the excitement and celebration of the holidays steal all attention from the end goal of winning in school this year?
A new report gives parents some hope and encouragement in their ability to help coach their children to victory. Recent findings show that simply reading and talking to your children leads to better academic performance, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. I hope the OECD’s report can be the catalyst we need to help parents to become more actively involved in their children’s education in 2012.
I think we all agree that parents’ engagement in their children’s education is a key ingredient for student success, but what we typically focus on is the quality of parents’ involvement in the school: participation in the PTA, in fundraising activities, attending back-to-school night or attending the school play. There is not enough focus on the quality of parents’ involvement in the home outside of directing parents to monitor television viewing time spent and helping children with homework.
The great news about the PISA findings is that parents who talk and read to their children, regardless of socio-economic background, help prepare them to learn and it is something every parent can do. The report underscores what I hope is well understood by now: that reading to children early and often contributes to higher scores than students whose parents read infrequently or not at all.
It identifies concrete ways in which parents can stimulate learning in the home by asking frequently about what their child is learning; discussing books, movies, and TV programs, discussing political or social issues, and generally spending time talking with their children, hopefully over a meal. It also helps us understand that students are never too old to benefit from their parent’s interest in and concern for them.
Ok parents, game on! What are you gonna do to inspire your kids to excel when they return to school? If you need some help, visit our web site (webduboissociety.org) and download the Parent-Student Contract. It’s a tool you can review and complete with your child to set clear and specific expectations for their academic success in the next semester.
Talk is usually cheap, but in the case of talking to your children, doing so can yield academic performance rewards that will pay dividends later. Let’s inspire our kids and give them the tools they need to compete in the classroom!