Want kids to learn more? Teach their parents
It's obvious, right? Parents are critical to a kid's success in school. But while people everywhere complain about "bad" parents, some school districts are doing something about it. They're expanding efforts to teach those parents how to be better engaged in their child's education - and better partners with classroom teachers. This new Time magazine story focuses on the Parent Academy program in Miami-Dade:
Picture yourself in any one these hypothetical scenarios: you're a parent who never graduated high school; you're a parent whose only interactions with schools have been negative ones; you're a parent who has zero recollection of how to divide fractions; you're a parent who has no clue as to what the important dates are on the college-application calendar. Now picture yourself experiencing all of these hypothetical scenarios at once, and then imagine how your child would suffer from your knowledge deficit. For as much as the current wave of education reformers like to maintain that quality teachers and schools can help overcome environmental factors, a child's home life plays an undeniable role in how well they learn, says Karen Mapp, director of the Education Policy and Management Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
"I've been doing research on family engagement for about 16 years now," she says. "And there's 40 years of research that indicates a pretty positive relationship between families being engaged in their children's education and positive effects on students in terms of their academic achievement." Mapp is currently helping write a case study on Miami's Parent Academy program, which is one of the nation's most successful big-city attempts in this area. Privately funded by local philanthropists (it is in the midst of a three-year, $18 million grant from the Knight Foundation) and businesses, the Parent Academy has seen more than 120,000 people participate in its workshops during the past half-decade. It has taught parents everything from how to reinforce reading lessons at home to how to deal with bullying and the perils of sexting.