Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Accountability/Parents

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How should parents be held accountable?

The National Public Radio conducted a telephone survey in 1999, which randomly interviewed 1,422 adults nationwide. When the parents of school age children were asked: How often do you help your children do homework assignments — nearly every day, once or twice a week, or less often than that? The answers in percentages were 59%, 27%, and 13% respectively. When the parents of school-age children were asked: How often do you meet with your children's teachers —once a month, a few times a year, or only rarely? The answers in percentages were 35%, 50% and 12% respectively. When half the sample of parents and non-parents were given a list of problems schools might face and asked to tell if it were a major problem, a minor problem or not a problem at all for the public schools in your community, 55% indicated that lack of parental involvement was a major problem in their public schools. As you can see from this survey, the lack of parental involvement in children’s education is a problem for our nation. In this article, I will present several things parents should do before their child enters school, what they should do at home and how they should be involved at their child’s school.

Preparation for School[edit]

Parents should begin preparing their child for school as soon as the child is born. Children go through many different levels of physical, emotional, social and intellectual development from the time they are born until they begin school. Child Development Info contains a chart that shows the various stages of development a child passes through from ages 2-5. A parent is very important at each of these developments to ensure the child develops normally. Parents should spend time everyday reading to their child and making reading fun and exciting. Children need time to explore and develop their language skills. Parents can do this by reading to the child and asking the child to repeat phrases, as well as teaching the child the alphabet and numbers (Child Development Institute, 2007). It is also the parents’ responsibility to start socializing their child with other children at an early age. This teaches children to get along with others, as a well as key concept such as sharing, learning to listen and take turns. Parents should allow their children to explore their creative personalities by providing adequate time to paint, draw, scribble and color. These artistic activities help children develop and express their personalities, as well as increasing their imaginations (U.S. Department of Education, 2005). These are all things parents should work with and teach their child before the child starts kindergarten. If the parents do not have enough time to work with their child developing his or her skills, then there are many preschool classes available at little or no cost.

Core Values to Success[edit]

There are several core values a parent should teach their child at home other than learning academic and language skills. One of the first things a parent should begin, even as the child is still an infant, is to get the child used to a schedule. The child should have structured days with specific times for eating, playing, and napping. As the child nears school age, the parents should try to structure the days similar to what the child will experience in school. This will allow the child to be used to routines and the classroom will not come as such a shock to them. It is also the parents’ responsibility to monitor what the child eats, the amount of sleep received, and what is watched on television or seen on the internet (Bippus, 2005). Children need a proper balance of healthy foods and an adequate amount of sleep to properly function. This will make learning much easier for the child during school so the child is not sleepy, hungry or lacking energy. Children should also be assigned chores appropriate to their age level. A preschooler is definitely old enough to help set the table for dinner, place the toys back in the toy box, and helping sorting the laundry. This teaches children responsibility, how to follow directions and it improves their physical coordination (U.S. Department of Education, 2005). One of the most important things parents can teach their children is discipline. Parents should teach their children right from wrong and that their actions have consequences. Children need to be punished fittingly for their misbehavior and they should be able to easily identify right from wrong before they enter school.

Homework Hints for Parents

  • Assume that your children will have studying to do every night.
  • Ask your children if they understand their homework. If they do not, work a few examples together.
  • Ask your children to show you their homework after the teacher returns it, to learn where they're having trouble and where they're doing well. See if your children did the work correctly.
  • Stay in touch with your children's teachers. Ask about their classes and what they are studying. Ask their teachers how you can support what they are studying (flash cards, spelling, etc.).
  • Remember, you and their teachers want the same thing — to help your children learn.
  • Don't be afraid to get in touch with the teacher if you and your child don't understand an assignment or if your child is having a great deal of trouble. Almost all parents run into these problems, and teachers are glad to help.
  • Don't do your children's work for them. Help them learn how to do it themselves.
  • Show your children that you think homework is important. If you are at work during homework time, ask to see their work when you get home.
  • Praise your children for doing well. Make praise a habit.
  • Maintain a portfolio of "best pieces."
  • Ask your school about tips or guides for helping your children develop good study habits.
  • Help older students organize their assignments by recording them on calendars or planners, along with due dates, dates turned in, etc. National Education Association

Parental Involvement at Home[edit]

As important as it is for parents to be involved with their children at home, it is “Research has shown time and time again that family involvement in a child’s education leads to increased test scores, higher graduation rates, and more opportunities for higher education” (, 2007). This statement should be enough to encourage all parents to be actively involved with their child’s education. Parents have to continue to monitor their child’s habits, especially on the content and amount of television watched and websites on the internet viewed. These forms of entertainment can have a huge influence on your child’s life, so it is important the content is age appropriate. Another thing to monitor, especially as your child gets older, is attendance. Sometimes it is hard for schools to keep check on every student so it is easy for a student to skip out of his classes. This is also a core value parents must instill in their children: the importance of being on time and attending classes. The most important thing a parent needs to help their child with at home is homework. The National Education Association says that teachers use homework to help students understand and retain the work covered from the day’s lessons, to see if the students understood what was covered in class, and to help students discover where to find and how to use additional information. It is important for parents to help their children with homework to make sure they understand the material and they do their homework so they are prepared for the next day’s lesson.

Parental Involvement at School[edit]

As important as it is for parents to be involved with their children at home, it is equally important that the parents stay involved at their children’s school and with their teachers. One of the most significant things a parent should do is stay in constant contact with their child’s teachers. This includes attending parent-teacher conferences, as well as regular phone calls or notes to ask about your child’s progress. So often, parents think the only time they need to communicate with a teacher is if something is wrong, but a parent needs to stay informed of all progress. Another key way to stay involved is for a parent to volunteer. This way a parent knows things that are going on behind the scenes and can possibly better assess the situation at the school. Volunteers can see first hand if a teacher is relaying the appropriate amount of content to the students; so if this is not the case, then parents know they need to spend extra time with their children at home. Parents should also vote in school board elections and become a promoter for better education in the community or state (NEA, 2007).


Parents should be held accountable when it comes to certain aspects of their children’s education. Parents have responsibilities to prepare their child for school, teach their child core values, and have a steady involvement at home and at school with their child’s education. Parents have to nurture and guide their child’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual development before the child enters school. Parents have to teach their child core values that will lead to success, such as discipline, healthy eating and sleeping habits, and how to follow a routine. The most important thing for a parent to do at home is to help their child with homework in making sure the homework is completed and the child understands the homework. Parents should have a open line of communication with their child’s teacher and spend as much time as possible at the child’s school by volunteering. These are just some examples of how a parent can remain involved in their child’s education so they can help their child achieve success.

Multiple-Choice Questions[edit]

Click to reveal the answer.

What would be an appropriate chore to teach a four-year-old responsibility?
A. Mowing the lawn.
B. Vacuuming the carpets.
C. Sorting his own clothes.
D. Loading the dishwasher.

C. Sorting his own clothes.

How often should a parent speak with their child’s teacher?
A. Only at orientation.
B. Every other week to receive updates.
C. Only when the child is having a problem.
D. At least five times a day.

B. Every other week to receive updates.

Katie will start kindergarten in a little over a year. Her mother is worried because whenever she takes Katie to the park and Katie is on the playground with other kids, Katie plays quietly by herself with her toys. If a child comes up to play with her, Katie grabs all her toys quickly and goes to another corner. What should Katie’s mom do?
A. Take Katie to the doctor because she must be scared of germs.
B. Keep Katie at home with her all day and stop taking Katie to the park.
C. Leave Katie at the park alone with the other children so she’s forced to play.
D. Enroll Katie in preschool so she can learn to socialize with other children.

D. Enroll Katie in preschool so she can learn to socialize with other children.

What is the best way for a parent to learn more about how a teacher is teaching their child?
A. Plant a recorder device on their child and tell her to turn it on whenever the teacher comes near her.
B. Volunteer at the school to be a helper in the class or to go on field trips.
C. Call the principal several times a day asking for any news.
D. Interrogate all your child’s friends on what the teacher did that day.

B. Volunteer at the school to be a helper in the class or to go on field trips.

What is a homework hint for a parent to help their child with homework?
A. Always assume your child did their homework at school.
B. Just do your child’s work for them when they don’t understand.
C. Always praise your child for doing well.
D. Put assignments and due dates on little scrap pieces of paper so the child can keep up with them.

C. Always praise your child for doing well.

The most important thing a parent needs to help their child with at home is:
A. Homework
B. Chores
C. Exercise
D. Organization

A. Homework

What is NOT an effective way for parents to be involved at his or her child’s school?
A. Parent-teacher conferences.
B. Being a volunteer at the school.
C. Asking their child about school.
D. Regular phone calls from teachers.

C. Asking their child about school.

What is the purpose of homework?
A. To have material for a student's grade.
B. To help solidify and retain the information of the day’s lesson.
C. To keep students busy at home.
D. To get parents involved with their child’s education.

B. To help solidify and retain the information of the day’s lesson.

Essay Question[edit]

Click to reveal a sample response.

In what ways are parents accountable for their elementary child’s education?

Parents are accountable for their elementary child’s education in many ways. This is the most crucial time in a child’s life when he needs to master important skills such as reading, writing, forming letters correctly, and counting. Most of learning is somehow based on these foundational skills. Parents should begin working with their child before he starts kindergarten. Reading to the child every day and asking him to repeat phrases will help the child with identifying sounds and letters. During the time before the child starts school, it is also important to teach the child discipline. The child should know to respect the teacher and the difference between right and wrong when it enters school. The child should be familiar with routine and know there are set times when to play and have fun and other times when he needs to stop and pay attention. This will avoid the child having problems in school if he were not used to a structured environment. It is important for parents to stay involved with their child’s school so they will be aware of any problems or conflicts that are going on. They need to talk with their child’s teacher regularly to receive updates on projects and progress. One of the main things parents needs to do at home is to help their child with homework. This does not mean give the child the answers, but make sure the homework is completed with the correct answers. Also, make sure the child understands the questions and knows why the answers are the right ones.