The new Kenyan curriculum emphasizes the role of parents as integral to the curriculum’s successful implementation. This development requires a mental and societal shift in how parents and the community interact with schools and education. The perception (at least in Kenya) has always been that education is the sole responsibility of the school and the teacher. The role of the parent therefore has been clearly cut out to provide all material requirements for schooling and avail the child in school every morning; but is this enough?
How then can parents become involved in their children’s education? One may ask.
First, it is extremely essential for a child to know that parents care about his/her educational progress. One avenue parents can leverage is parents’ meetings organized by the school.
During this time, parents should be deliberate about interacting with the child’s class teacher and follow-up on the child’s progress. Moreover, parents should focus on holistic child progress and focus beyond academic scores to inquire about the child’s behavior and other non-academic interests of the child.
Second, it is important for parents to engage their children in conversation regarding what happens at school while at home. This engagement creates an opportunity for parents to learn about activities their children are engaged while at school and may aid parents to further support these interests. Additionally, children may reveal struggles they are facing in school and provide an opportunity for parents to support them. If the challenges cannot be solved only by the parent, the parent can then follow-up with the teacher. Such interactions between parents and children reinforce to the child that a parent cares and promote a positive psychological environment for children to share challenges even in the future without prompting.
Third, parents can check children’s books and support children in their homework. Here, parents do not necessarily need expertise or even be knowledgeable of the subject content. The direct interaction with a child’s schoolwork communicates and affirms parents’ interest in the child’s schoolwork. Furthermore, through these periodical reviews parents can easily identify their children’s academic strengths and support in shaping future career paths for their children.
In conclusion, parental involvement carries benefits. According to Vyn Wak when students know that their parents will follow-up on their schoolwork, students learn to value education and even behave better when in school benefits that cut-across all socio-economic boundaries. In addition parental involvement in education motivates schools to improve the quality of teaching which translates to higher student achievement.
 Van Wyk, J. N. 2008. A comparative perspective on the theories, policies and practices of parent involvement in education. Lecture paper: University of South Africa. August 2008.
Contributor: Maurine Makena – Senior Learning & Evaluations Officer