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Schools, students rely on parental involvement

When schools, families and communities work together to support students and learning, children do better in school, stay in school longer and like school more. That is the message that research over the last couple of decades gives us and as a parent and educator, it's something that I have seen for myself.

From the beginning of academic life, students need their parents and the community to be excited about their learning. They love to share their experiences and they need reassurance from their parents about the choices they have available to them and that they make.

Austin Public Schools believes in strong parent and community involvement. Every school offers opportunities to be involved and to share in decision-making responsibilities. Parent organizations, advisory councils and volunteer opportunities are just a few of the ways parents can be involved in the schools. Other opportunities are visiting your child in the classroom, on the playground or at lunch to see firsthand how they spend their days. Austin Public Schools Dietitian Jen Haugen encourages parents to come and eat lunch with their students to model good nutrition and food choices and to get a better understanding of the lunch options they have.

Parent involvement does not mean just being physically in the school. It also means nurturing children at home. According to Henderson and Berla (1994), "The most accurate predictor of a student's achievement in school is not income or social status but the extent to which that student's family is able to create a home environment that encourages learning, express high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children's achievement and future careers, and become involved in their children's education at school and in the community.

Involvement not only benefits the child but also the parents. Parents increase their interaction and discussions with their children, become more confident in their parenting skills, have more knowledge about child development and have a better understanding of the teacher's job and school curriculum. They also become more aware and active regarding policies that affect their children's education.


Schools also benefit from parent involvement with higher morale, improved communication and relationships. Increased interactions provide a better understanding of families' cultures and diversity allowing school personnel to form deeper respect for parents' abilities and time.

Being involved in the schools makes a world of difference, so if you are a parent or community member we invite you to find an opportunity this year to join us in the education of our children at all levels. Visit our website at www.austin.k12.mn.us to find links to our schools and programs. We welcome you as our partner in providing a high quality education to our community.

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