No matter what you think about being forced to volunteer at your child’s elementary school, a new study published in the May/June issue of Child Development shows there’s good reason to do it. Students whose parents frequently visit their school cooperate more and have better self-control in class. “In addition, children were less likely to be either depressed or anxious,” according to Business Week/Health Day News.
The study followed more than 1,300 children from 10 U.S. cities from birth to fifth grade, and although problem behaviors were shown to be curbed due to parent involvement, student academic performance was not noted to have improved. But get ready for forced volunteerism, anyway, because according to the article’s abstract, “Implications for policy and practice are discussed.”
It makes sense that children with parents who frequently visit the classroom behave better, not just because that child feels reassured by the presence of a parent, but because it becomes clear that the parent(s) and teacher have a relationship, and that the adults at home and at school have the same expectations of good behavior. Unfortunately, forced volunteerism is not practical for many parents who cannot leave their jobs, and so parent-teacher conferences were invented to bridge that gap. While I do think it’s difficult to expect one or two adults to police 25 children all day, I don’t think daily parental involvement should be expected, either. How much time do you spend at your child’s school? Are there parents at your child’s elementary, pre-school or daycare that are overly involved? What about parental involvement that makes their kids clingy or other parents look bad for not being around as much?