Students’ Maths Performance in Relation to Parents’ Involvement

Introduction

Research has shown that parents’ involvement in their children’s educational performance is very important. Children spend much of their time with their parents and hence the parents have a major impact on them. 86% of the public strongly believe that parents’ involvement in their children’s schoolwork is one of the most significant ways of improving their performance as well as the schools’ in general. On the other hand where parental involvement lacks public schools face major problems. Many years of research have shown that students who spend time with their parents attain better grades in school and graduate with high scores, attend school better, have increased motivation and self-esteem, use drugs less, and are less likely to be involved in violent behavior. Research has also shown that there is a relationship between students’ performance in mathematics and the parents’ involvement in assisting children in mathematics education. Mathematics is a very important subject for a person’s proper functioning in society. Studies have shown that a parent’s attitude towards mathematics has an impact on their children. Children who come from homes where parents have an interest in mathematics are more likely to exhibit the same behavior in school. The aim of this paper is to look at the relationship between students’ mathematics performance and parents’ involvement in their children’s mathematics education

Forms of Parental Involvement

Epstein came up with a plan for parental involvement in their children’s education. Parental involvement refers to the support that the parents give to their children. This is done through their participation at home, community as well as at school. This involvement and support directly affect their children’s academic performance positively (Gomez, n.d). Parental involvement in children’s learning becomes successful when parents work in partnership with the educational institution. Effective partnership is characterized by respect, mutual trust, a collaboration between the teacher and the parent, and equality.

Education planners and school administrators are required to design programs that encourage parental involvement in matters pertaining to the education of their children. Such programs should put into consideration the unique needs of the families in their community since such factors vary from one family to another (Gomez, n.d).

Studies have shown that parents’ involvement benefits the children in various ways. It has been proved to give them a positive attitude as a whole. Children are often encouraged by their parents to aim higher in school work and more often than not, they end up producing brilliant results. Generally, the students develop a positive outlook about the relationship between school and home. This relationship not only benefits the students but the parents as well. Parents are able to understand how the school operates and hence mutual trust develops between the school and parents. Usually, parents gain confidence and understand the need to help their children in their academic work since it is of great importance. Even if their educational level is low they can still influence their children positively. By understanding the school, parents develop a positive attitude towards the school and the teachers. This becomes very important in helping the children. They are able to monitor their children’s reading and homework. They are also able to control the number of hours the children watch television because too many hours on television programs have a negative impact on the children’s academic performance. Furthermore, the school and the teachers benefit from the partnership because they get the support of the parents and the community at large. This improves their morale and hence, increases their efforts in teaching. However other studies say that the partnership between parents and teachers is negative because they only talk when there is a problem with the child hence the child feels cornered by the two parties. This may have detrimental effects on the children’s performance (Hanushek, 1994).

Epstein came up with six ways through which parents can be involved in their children’s education.

Epstein’s Six Types of Parental Involvement

Parenting

Parenting requires the caregivers to provide their children with basic needs such as clothing, food, safety among others. They should also provide a favorable home environment that is favorable to children of all ages and grades. On the other hand, school administrators should involve parents in various school activities to enable them to understand the parents. Such activities include workshops and videotapes which require parental skills. There are also courses for the parents and support groups involve families. These support groups help them with nutrition, parenting, and food co-ops, and so on. These programs are initiated to help parents visit the school and understand them. Annual surveys help the parents to exchange information about their children with the teachers (Christenson & Sheridan, 2001p. 14; Epstein, 2001).

However, such activities are faced with several challenges. For instance, giving full information to all parents poses a major problem since not all attend the programs.

Communications

This involves the establishment of a rapport between the school and parents. It is achieved through the use of memos, report cards, newsletters, phone calls, internet massaging, and notices. Through such media, the school can give information about its activities as well as the performance of the children. The parents learn about the school’s activities and programs. Communication is good as it establishes a rapport and encourages interaction between the school and home.

Successful communication is achieved through proper planning as having regular intervals of releasing memos, sending report cards, having yearly conferences with the parents and among others. On the other hand, there is the challenge of ensuring that the communication is clear to all families and also how to obtain ideas that the parents may have (Kruse& Seashore, 2008 p. 138).

Volunteering

Volunteering of all the stakeholders in education is very important to make the school’s programs and activities successful. For example, audiences are needed during conferences, assemblies, and any other events. The volunteers help to dispatch information for instance a class parent informs the other parents about planned activities. The challenge faced is creating room for all volunteers and finding a flexible schedule for them (Kruse& Seashore, 2008 p. 138).

Learning at Home

Parents are required to assist their children with homework, making decisions related to the curriculum, and giving skills necessary to pass in the different subjects. Parents are given information about the required skills in the subjects. They are also told how to help the students with their school work. This is done by activities that require the partnership of the parents and the students. In Australia for example, a program is designed for tutor parents. It is a joint program that equips parents with the necessary skills required in a span of eight sessions lasting two hours each (Parents Tutors, 2008). The utmost challenge is on determining how to design tasks that are suitable for discussion.

Decision Making

This concerns participation and leadership. This is made possible through advisory councils, Parent teachers associations, and others. The different groups work to ensure that the school’s policy and agenda are implemented. The challenge includes involving parents from all backgrounds so that some do not end up feeling excluded, To train parents in leadership, and including students representatives in parent decision-making groups (Kruse& Seashore, 2008 p. 138).

Collaborating With the Community

All the members of the community are required to work together for the success of the children in schools. Parents, schools, agencies, cultural groups, and many others should work together so that the school runs properly. For instance, these parties could assist through raising funds for school projects. The school on the other hand can get involved in community activities like clean-ups. There is the Federation of Parents and citizens’ Association of NSW during their 2009 Annual conference at Penrith, debated and voted on a number of issues affecting education (Parents Tutors, 2008). More importantly, when teachers collaborate with the parents to teach students in mathematics, it becomes a win win situation. This is because; the children strive to make both parties happy. The arrangement to learn at home makes them realize that mathematics is not only important at school, but also as a subject that is applied in everyday aspects and makes life interesting (Hartog & Brosnan 2005).

Another way in which the students benefit from this collaboration is by getting advice from professionals in the society. They are able to share their life and work experiences with the students because they are in the real world experience. This is beneficial because the students cannot get this kind of advice from their teachers. This helps the students to link what they learn in class to the outside world. Those with career related questions also get an opportunity to share with the people in their concerned in particular professions.

Effect of parental involvement

Parental involvement can be described as the behaviour of the parent with the children or as their representative both at home and school moreover the expectations the parents have about their children’s future in education (Reynolds & Clements, 2005). Another definition proposed by Ho and Willms (1996) define it as the in involvement in four areas: school communication, home discussion, school participation and home supervision.

There has been an ongoing debate about the role of improved resources in a school’s performance. Some say that more resources result in better result (Winerip, 2004) but others see negative results or none at all (Hanushek, 1994).

When parents are involved in the education of their children not only do their performance improve but the management of school resources. Schools with parental involvement had better resource management than those without. This is because the parents have influence in the children’s use of the resources and can also suggest how they are used. Research has also found that parents are more involved in their children’s education when the school has fewer resources and hence the performance is high. On the contrary when the school ejects more resources into the school the involvement of the parents reduces considerably. This affects the schools in terms of performance. It drops despite more resources due to the less involvement of the parents (Conway & Hountenville, 2008).

Parents who show an interest in their children’s academic are a positive influence. The children also show an interest in their academics because as it is said children are better imitators than listeners. They maintain this interest even after grow up and move up the educational ladder (Hartog & Brosnan 2005).

When parents work together with the schools research has shown that besides their children performing better they stay longer in school (Krueger, 1999). If they stay longer in school they have a better chance of graduating.

Gender effects

This has been an area that has attracted much attention among scolars. Research has been done to determine the factors that affect the learning of mathematics and the performance. Historically, girls have been found to have a negative attitude towards mathematics (Leder, 1992). The negative attitude increase with age and therefore fewer girls have an opportunity to get into certain university programmes that require competence in mathematics (Herzig, 2004). On the other hand, boys have been found to portray a positive attitude towards maths and this explains why there are more males in science related careers. Their teachers and parents perceptions and ideologies regarding the archetypes attached to the subject also play a big role in influencing children’s attitude in the subject. They can either help girls to change their negative attitude or reinforce it through their positive or negative reinforcement. A teacher’s teaching approach also plays a major role in the kind of attitude that girls develop towards mathematics (Maraffi, n.d). On a presentation in 1994, Judith Gill showed that girls in middle school level as well as those in high school have a positive attitude towards school work. On the contrary, at this level, their attitude towards mathematics is usually negative. The paper explored the issue of gender in Australian schools by studying both mixed and girls’ schools. The study involved seventh, eighth and tenth graders. Girls in all these cases were found to have a negative attitude. However, some studies have shown that separating girls and boys at school helps to change the attitude of girls towards mathematics from negative to positive.

A study done in an Australian project examined the mathematical performance of year nine students. Seemingly, gender appeared to portray a significant influence on the performance on the females who represented a lower achievement than their male counterparts (Rothman & McMillan, 2003).

Another study done in the year 2003 showed a negligible difference in mathematics performance between boys and girls aged fifteen years. Out of 700 marks, the boys’ mean score was 527 while the girls’ was 522 as shown in the graph below. On the other hand, in sciences both genders had a similar score of 525. However, more than 45% of boys did better than 42% of the girls in maths proficiency as shown in the graph below.

mathematics proficiency levels

Another point worth noting is that most parents are more interested in the education of their girl child compared to the boy child. Majority of parents spend more time talking to the daughters about school especially during meal time discussions. This is often not the case when it comes to boys. Conway, a researcher, says that the reason behind this, according to many theories, is the openness character in many girls. Therefore, due to their communicative nature, more parents find it easier to talk to their girls about academics than to the boys (Conway & Hountenville, 2008).

Parental involvement and students’ achievement

Students do better when their parents participate actively in their education. A research from the University of New Hampshire has in deed proved this. Conway and Hountenville (2008), researchers involved in the study found out that parental involvement affects the achievement of the children positively. Their research showed that, schools where parental involvement is applied had higher chances of portraying a rise in academic performance than those without.

Hartog and Brosnan (2005) urge that the parents have the responsibility of nurturing their children in all aspects of their lives. They nurture their emotional, physical and intellectual development. Many parents find it easier to teach their children how to read and often do not know how to instil an interest in mathematics. However, those who have found a way to do it have helped their children to have confidence in the subject. They have done this by making mathematics enjoyable and hence develop an interest. This has not been without challenges because they have to teach the children to apply their knowledge in mathematics to solve in day to day problems.

Studies have shown that parents support for their children in education is very important. Children need their parents’ support to build a sense of confidence and their overall success. To a great extent, children depend on the encouragement they get from their parents in order to succeed even when they have not performed well. When parents teach their children how to study mathematics by doing activities that evoke an interest in the subject, the children develop an interest in the subject. Due to their parents’ interest in the learning process, the students will be encouraged to do even better.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this study has shown that parents who participate significantly in their children’s’ education have a positive influence. This is particularly so when the subject of concern is mathematics, which is considered to be a tough subject by many. It has been proved that majority of parents often participate when the schools do not have enough resources which lead to a rise in performance. On the other hand, when more resources are availed to the schools, parental participation is likely to drop which could lead to deteriorating in performance. However, more scholars should come up and explore this issue wholly. This can be done by interviewing both the parents and the students to understand the entire relationship. More importantly, parents should be encouraged to participate in their children’s education and especially where they feel to be weak. Such participation in mathematics should be encouraged more as research has found that most parents feel inadequate to help their children in this subject and yet they could make a great difference by assisting their children where they can. Parents should understand the importance in showing interest in helping their children in mathematics subject. Educators should play a great role in emphasising this fact. This would facilitate the increase in the level of parental participation in children’s’ education as well as develop an interest where non existent.

Reference list

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