Yard Signs Have Wrong Emphasis
Each fall for the past few years, bright yellow tree-lawn signs have proliferated throughout Lakewood, indicating that we should “BRAKE 4 KIDS”. Though a well-intentioned slogan and suggestion, designed to protect our children from the harm imposed by reckless and irresponsible drivers, I feel we may be missing the mark. A small percentage of Lakewood’s population is affected by traffic mishaps, and is certainly something to be avoided, but a much larger disservice is done to our children through parent non-involvement with a child’s education. If we compare the number of children that are hit by a car, versus the number of children who have no motivation for success in the classroom, I am sure the second scenario would have the overwhelming numbers. There are plenty of studies that indicate parent involvement in a child’s education does have an impact. Encouragement, support, help, and direction to our children’s success in school should bring favorable results, if everyone would participate. The article below was written 22 years ago, but the message is the same today.
The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that parent involvement in children's learning is positively related to achievement. Further, the research shows that the more intensively parents are involved in their children's learning the more beneficial are the achievement effects. This holds true for all types of parent involvement in children's learning and for all types and ages of students.
Looking more closely at the research, there are strong indications that the most effective forms of parent involvement are those which engage parents in working directly with their children on learning activities in the home. Programs which involve parents in reading with their children, supporting their work on homework assignments, or tutoring them using materials and instructions provided by teachers, show particularly impressive results.
“Parent Involvement in Education”, Kathleen Cotton and Karen Reed Wikelund, May 1989
Maybe the yellow signs directed at miscreant drivers should instead be directed at those who guide our young people in the pursuit of knowledge. A clever marketing firm should be able to design a slogan and a colorful poster directed towards the goal of helping our children succeed in the classroom. The “Stop Smoking” campaigns over the past decades have successfully curtailed the numbers who smoke. A similar campaign encouraging success in the classroom is certainly worth a concerted effort on our part to impact a positive change.
With all the current conversation about education, maybe this is one way to get the conversation started in our community. As much as the teachers have an impact on students, the crucible of the home environment is far more powerful.
Robert W. Sedlak
Lakewood High School
Mathematics and Pre-Engineering instructor at Lakewood High School