OUR VIEW: Parent-teacher conferences should be a priority

By Daily News • Last Updated 10:46 am on Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding and, yet, difficult jobs that exists on the planet. Rewarding because you get to help nurture and shape a soul from the most innocent and helpless infant to a truly complicated and emotional teenager to what we all hope becomes a very responsible, thoughtful and giving adult.

That journey, however, comes with a lot of worry and stress and uncertainty at times. While there are no handbooks provided upon the birth of a baby or certainties when it comes to raising a child, one thing is for sure: The more involved a parent or guardian is in the life of their child, the more opportunity for success that child will have.

This week, area elementary schools are in session for half days only so that they can host parent-teacher conferences. Some parents wouldn’t miss a chance to talk to their child’s teacher. But for an increasing number of parents, taking time away from work, rescheduling prior commitments, or understanding just how important a one-on-one opportunity with their child’s teacher is doesn’t rank high on the priority list.

Talk to some of those involved parents whose children are well on their way to accomplishing their dreams in both academics and employment. Talk to longtime educators who have seen year after year what a difference having involved moms and dads and grandparents and guardians makes. And if that doesn’t convince you of how important your involvement is in a child’s education, consider what research has found.

Experts have shown that when parents get involved in their child’s education, students have higher grades, test scores and graduation rates, better attendance at school, increased motivation and better self-esteem, lower rates of suspension, decreased use of drugs and alcohol and fewer instances of violent behavior.

Here are some facts from the Michigan Department of Education:

• School-aged children spend 70 percent of their waking hours outside of school.

• The earlier a child’s parent gets involved in their educational journey, the more powerful the effects.

• The most effective forms of parent involvement are those that engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities at home.

• Family participation in education has twice as much impact on a student’s success as a family’s economic status.

• The more parents participate in schooling, in a sustained way, at every level, the higher level of success their children will have.

Although some parents do not know how to help their children with their education, with guidance and support, they may become increasingly involved in home learning activities and find themselves with opportunities to teach, to be models for and to guide their children.

Parents who read to their children, have books available, take trips, guide TV watching, and provide stimulating experiences contribute to student achievement.

Attending parent-teacher conferences can help you learn ways to be more involved in your child’s education. It does make a difference. Please make it a priority this year.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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