The Role of Parents in Educating Children

Dec 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: Culture & Wordview, Featured Issues

Every three years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) conducts exams as part of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which tests 15-year olds in the world?s leading industrialized nations on their reading comprehension and ability to use what they have learned in math and science.  Compared with children in Singapore, Finland and Shanghai, China, America?s 15-year olds have not been distinguishing themselves.  As columnist Tom Friedman reports, Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the exams for the OECD, investigated what is behind the classroom in children tested?their families.  Beginning with 4 nations in 2006 and adding 14 more in 2009, the PISA team went to parents of 5,000 students and interviewed them ?about how they raised their kids and then compared that with the test results? for each of those years.  What was the result?

  1. Schleicher reported to Friedman that ?fifteen-year old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all.  The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family?s socioeconomic background.  Parents engaging with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.?
  2. Schleicher explained that ?just asking your child how was their school day and showing genuine interest in the learning they are doing can have the same impact as hours of private tutoring.  It is something every parent can do, no matter what their education level or social background.
  3. Students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child every day or almost every day during the first year of primary school have markedly higher PISA scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents did not.  On average the score difference is 25 points, the equivalent of well over half a school year.
  4. He also reports that ?on average, the score point difference in reading that is associated with parental involvement is largest when parents read a book with their child, when they talk about things they have done during the day, and when they tell stories to their children.?
  5. Furthermore, a recent study by the National School Boards Associations Center for Public Education reports that, ?Monitoring homework; making sure children get to school; rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to college? are most likely to have an impact on academic achievement at school.  In addition, the study ?found that getting parents involved with their children?s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending PTA and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising and showing up at back-to-school nights.?

In conclusion, our culture has spent trillions of dollars since 1965 on building expensive buildings, hiring well-qualified teachers and providing well-written textbooks, but none of this is as valuable as parents who care!  We need good teachers; of that there is no doubt.  We need good classrooms with all the technology; of that there is no doubt.  We need textbooks that are sound and well-written; of that there is no doubt.  But without parents who are engaged with their children, none of this will matter much.  Nearly 3,500 years ago, Moses instructed the parents of Israel to teach and model the things of God to their children (Deuteronomy 6:1-7).  That sound advice from Scripture is still relevant today!  If the family is dysfunctional, the children will suffer.  That self-evident axiom is now being worked out in our culture.  Education is a cooperative effort between the school and the home.  When the home does not exist, the schools will not be able to do it all.  Increasingly, this is where so much of American education is today.  We expect the schools to do it all?and they cannot!  In fact, I believe quite strongly that true education is a cooperative effort between the public school, the parents and the church.  That institutional triad provides the needed framework for successful education.  Our postmodern culture will not permit the support of the church in this triad.  So, it is up to the schools and the parents.  When the parents are not there or not engaged, the schools will not be able to do the job.  We need good teachers and we need good parents?and, as a Christian, I would add we need good churches.  We should not be surprised when we read of the growing failure rates of our children on assessment exams.  It is not all the fault of the teachers; it is the miserable failure of so many parents!  God declared that 3,500 years ago.  Perhaps it is time for us to re-acquaint ourselves with His paradigm for success!

See Friedman?s reports in the New York Times (20 November 2011). PRINT PDF

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3 Comments to “The Role of Parents in Educating Children”

  1. Homeschoolmom says:

    You said you believe “that true education is a cooperative effort between the public school, the parents, and the church”. I would agree, as far as those who do choose public education ,that the parents and church are a must. However as a christian in a post modern world, I feel I have a responsibility to protect my child from the public school education where increasingly it is becoming more and more anti-God and favoring teaching even young children things that are detestable to God.

    • Jeremiah says:

      Strongly Supports your vie HomeSchoolMom!

      A government that discriminates by allowing Islam et al to practice in School and keep the Christian God out of school is not only discriminatory but offensive!

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