We know that parental involvement in kids’ lives is essential for their overall sense of well-being and self-esteem, and even their academic performance. Now new research out of the University of Missouri-Columbia, which is set to be published in School Psychology Quarterly and the Journal of School Psychology, has proven that how teachers perceive parental involvement in kids’ academic lives makes a difference, too.
As lead researcher Keith Herman, a professor in the MU College of Education and co-director of the Missouri Prevention Center explained in a press release, "If a teacher has a good relationship with a student's parents or perceives that those parents are positively engaged in their child's education, that teacher may be more likely to give extra attention or go the extra mile for that student. If the same teacher perceives another child's parents to be uninvolved or to have a negative influence on the child's education, it likely will affect how the teacher interacts with both the child and the parent.”
Researchers looked at 100 teachers and more than 1,800 students. The teachers were randomly assigned to a professional development program created to develop effective relationships with parents and students and improve classroom management skills. Teachers were also asked to complete surveys about the students and their parents, at the beginning and then the end of the academic year. The final consideration was researcher observation of student behavior and academic performance.
What Herman and his team found was that kids with involved parents (as perceived by the teachers) showed better social and academic performance. The teacher training program seemed to help facilitate both better parent-teacher relationships and students’ school success.
"Negative perceptions often bring out negative behaviors," Herman commented. He added about the study’s implications: "We also know, from this and prior studies, that teachers are more likely to report less comfort and alignment with parents whose children have academic and social problems, and parents from low income and/or from racial or ethnic minority groups. In other words, often the families and students who need the most positive attention and support to re-engage them in education, are often the ones who are viewed the least favorably.”
He hopes this study will shine a light on the need to for teachers to develop good relationships with all parents, and for all parents to be as involved in their kids’ academic lives as possible.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of coffee.