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A mom and her child do homework together. (Photo: Fabio Principe/Shutterstock)

OPINION: The Importance of Parents in a Child’s Education

A child is far more likely to have academic success when there is a strong partnership between the schools and the parents

By Alicia Woo, June 3, 2024 10:45 am

My name is Alicia Woo, and I am running for the Washoe County School Board in District G, which serves the western side of Washoe County from Incline Village to Cold Springs.

I am often asked how education can be improved. Generally the first things that come to mind are ways we can support teachers and enhance school resources and programs. As a Washoe County high school science teacher and track and field coach for 17 years, I deeply understand the importance of these elements. As important as these are, what is arguably the most crucial factor in a child’s education is the parents. A child is far more likely to have academic success when there is a strong partnership between the schools and the parents.

Alicia Woo, Candidate for Washoe County School Board Trustee, District G. (Photo provided by Alicia Woo)

Parents are a child’s first teachers, imparting the fundamental values and skills that shape their character and worldview. Parents teach their children how to speak, how to behave, and how to approach problems with curiosity and resilience. The interaction between parents and children from the first moments of life help children learn to feel secure to explore the world around them and how to develop relationships with others. These early lessons form the foundation upon which formal education is built.

One problem I have observed in our school district is that many parents feel that their role is not respected. Those who attend school board meetings feel completely ignored. In some cases, district policies mandate that schools withhold important information from the parents. For example, Administrative Regulation 5161 prohibits the staff from revealing to parents information regarding a student’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Parents have the right to feel that their voices are heard, their concerns are addressed, and they are assured that no important information about their child will be withheld from them. 

Any discussion regarding how to enhance the quality of our schools must incorporate the role parents will play. Research consistently shows that children with actively engaged parents perform better academically, exhibit better behavior, and are more likely to complete their schooling. This involvement can take many forms: helping with homework, attending parent-teacher conferences, advocating for special needs, volunteering at school events, and fostering an environment that values education at home. Many parents want to be able to help their child but do not know how. If their child is performing poorly on exams, struggling with homework, or having difficulty understanding course material, they may not know how to help them. Schools can partner with parents by providing them with resources that can enable them to help their child at home. Additionally, parents could be provided with opportunities to engage with schools in other ways based on their interests and abilities.

In conclusion, while supporting teachers and enhancing school resources are crucial for improving education, we must not overlook the essential role parents play. Parents are an untapped resource and their involvement is critical to improving children’s academic success, behavior, and graduation rates. By improving communication and providing resources and opportunities for parents to be involved, we can create a more collaborative and effective educational environment. Empowering parents as partners is vital for the success of our students and the overall quality of our schools.

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