“Parents are a child’s very first teacher” is the opening sentence of our newest issue brief on the role of afterschool programs supporting parent engagement efforts. For me, that statement rings true on a personal level. Not only was my mom a teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District, but she was my teacher at home. At home, she was the one who showed me that achievement in any subject doesn’t come without hard work, and she instilled in me that personal responsibility helps pave the way to success. She also pushed me to keep going when I felt overwhelmed or wanted to give up, and taught me that failure doesn't define me unless I let it. As I learned growing up, and now know, parents are an integral support system for kids, and it is no wonder why policy makers, educators and afterschool programs are working to strengthen parent engagement efforts.
The latest issue brief by the Afterschool Alliance and MetLife Foundation, Afterschool: A Key to Successful Parent Engagement, digs into the research analyzing the effects of parent engagement on their child’s education. The brief finds a strong evidence base supporting the position that parents play an important role in promoting student success. Yet, at the same time, it uncovered that although policy makers, school administrators and teachers recognize the tremendous impact parents can have on their child’s education, they face implementation challenges on a number of levels to fully engage parents.
Afterschool programs are a perfect partner to help overcome the existing barriers—including limited resources and time, language barriers and levels of trust—between parents and schools. They are also able to offer unique benefits to families, such as counseling programs that help open the channels of communication between parents and their children, which bolster parent engagement efforts.
Parents, family members and supportive adults are a strong and influential support system for children. It is essential that schools and afterschool programs work together to foster parent engagement efforts and ensure that children have all the support they need to thrive academically and into their adult life.
I’m very excited that I have the opportunity to share the issue brief this week at the National Summer Learning Association’s National Conference on Summer Learning, “Summer Changes Everything.” If you’re attending the conference, I hope you’ll stop by the Afterschool Alliance’s booth to pick up a copy and share your thoughts!