Parents as Leaders in Their Child’s Education
As a Christian educator, I believe that it is the parent’s, rather than the state’s, primary responsibility to take an active role in their child’s education. The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). W. H. Peterson, in his article regarding religious education stated that a child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture a child and direct his or her destiny have the right, coupled with the parental duty, to recognize and prepare their child for life (Petterson, 1968). This is very important because parents should have a choice when selecting a school that meets the academic and developmental needs of their child.
Why do parents need to be involved in their child's education?
Parents should be the ones who make a decision for their children's school enrollment. School choice proponents point to several benefits of parental involvement: First, it allows parents to find schools that better match their preferences for a particular pedagogical approach or emphasis. Second, it provides a mechanism for students who otherwise would be trapped in chronically underperforming schools to gain access to better educational opportunities. Third, is the notion that opportunity for choice results in competition among schools, which ultimately drives innovation and improves school quality (Rabovsky, 2011).
In 2003, I. H. Buchen in his article regarding education in the United States predicted that by 2025 schools will be offering parents, students, and adult learners a remarkable number of choices. “Students and their parents will drive the educational choice.” The Council for American Private Education (CAPE, 2015) revealed in their monthly publication that if parents were given a primary role in the selection of a school for their children, more Americans would prefer private education over other options.
What impact does parental participation have on student’s academic outcome?
Parental participation in student learning has a positive relationship with student achievement, attendance, and prosocial behavior (Edwards, 2004). In light of the likely correlation between the level of parental involvement and student outcomes, one can argue that parents of homeschoolers have the greatest level of parental involvement. Smith and Farris (2004) in their study about homeschooling reported that students who were homeschooled for one year or less scored, on average, in the 59th percentile and students who were homeschooled for two or more years scored, on average, between the 86th and 92nd percentile.
Today, all fifty states permit homeschooling as stated in the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (2011). They provided three main requirements for homeschooling that are very similar to a private institution’s requirements: curriculum, attendance status, and record keeping. Although three categories exist for homeschooling, the laws and regulations for homeschooling differ significantly. Homeschooling parents who live in a state where the homeschool regulations are strict can utilize an accredited online school to minimize the burdensome recordkeeping involved in homeschooling.
How does the recent academic shift toward online education benefit parents in their child's education?
Since the beginning of 21st century, K-12 education experienced an academic shift; online or virtual learning began to develop rapidly (Liu et al., 2010). The online education has become an invaluable opportunity for homeschooling parents to broaden their child’s education. It provides students the flexibility to learn anywhere at anytime, and obtain a diploma from an accredited institution. Technology is reducing the class size to one student at a time and to one-on-one support packages. Online students can take advantage of unique course offerings such as specialized courses, foreign languages, dual enrollment, and advanced placement. Online learning is available anywhere with internet connectivity 24 hours a day, seven days a week (Hawkins, 2016).
Online K-12 education serves students who may have some barrier to attendance at a brick and mortar school such as a disability or participation in sports at the professional level. Also, it is a safe-haven for students who are bullied in traditional schools. ELL (English Language Learners) and minority students may also benefit from online education, learning in their own language when a traditional institution may have limited resources and cannot offer this option. Corry in his research about minority students indicated that a comparison of mean dropout rates showed that Hispanic or Latino students involved in K–12 online learning are less likely to dropout of school (Corry, 2016).
An additional benefit for parents of homeschoolers who leverage an online education is a quality education that is teacher-led, giving parents who may be unable to be the sole educators the option for certified instructors to take the lead. Online counselors are working with students individually through programs such as Naviance, which allows students to better prepare for college. Research indicates that online homeschoolers attend over 900 different colleges and universities in the United States, including tier-1 and Ivy League universities such as Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Stanford University, Brown University, Cornell University, and Princeton University (Davis, 2005).
Empowering parents as leaders in their child’s K-12 education.
Beyond identifying the impact and importance of parents’ role in choosing their child's education, leadership is an essential topic of discussion, especially in K-12 education. The Bible advises parents to lead by example, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
Throughout my educational experience, I have learned the importance of parents being leaders in their child’s life: leading children by example, being consistent in discipline, instilling good study habits, and building good relationships that can be sustained through life circumstances. By being intentionally proactive and taking the leadership role in their child’s education, parents as well as students will benefit. The result will be stronger families and healthier communities.
Bible. NIV. Retrieved from https://www.biblegateway.com/
Buchen, I. H. (2003). Education in America: The next 25 years. The Futurist, 37(1), 44-50.
CAPE Outlook. (2015). Council for American private education. Monthly Newsletter.
Corry, M. (2016). Hispanic or Latino student success in online schools. International Review of Research in Open
and Distributed Learning, 17(3), 251-261.
Davis, M. (2005). So why do you homeschool? Distance Learning, 8(2), 29-35.
Edwards, P. A. (2004). Children’s literacy development: making it happen through school, family, and community
involvement. Boston. Pearson.
Hawkins, L.M. (2016). Georgia schools: virtually here. Distance Learning, 10(1), 39-44.
HSLDS. (2011). State Homeschooling laws. Retrieved from https://www.hslda.org/laws/
Liu, F. et al. (2010). The validation of one parental involvement measurement in virtual Schooling. Journal of
Interactive Online Learning, 9(2), 105-132.
Peterson W. H. (1968). Some state controls and influence on church-related education. Religious Education, 63(1).
Rabovsky, T. (2011). Deconstructing school choice: Problem schools or problem students? Public Administration
Review, 71(1), 87-95.
Smith, J. M. & Farris, M. P. (2004, October 22). Academic statistics on homeschooling. Retrieved from https://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp