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Tomorrows communities will be built by todays youth. Thus, the type of society we are desirous of creating in the future will be based on the morals, attitudes and values we as adults instil and encourage in our children, and the accomplishments and achievements they make in life . Homo sapiens, the human being is a social animal, and like all social animals, his development does not occur in isolation. Rather his development is characterized by an interaction between him and his environment. In fact, the development of the Homo sapiens sapiens or the "modern man" is so highly influenced by the interaction of social institutions, that the absence of them produces socially maladjusted and or emotionally disturbed individuals [Reference needed]. Many studies have been conducted to determine which of the various social institutions - the family, the school, peer circles, the community - play the greatest or the most pivotal role in determining student's achievement in life.
A deeper look at the literature has revealed that student's achievements are multifactorial, and greatly depends on the many social contexts within which they operate. [Reference needed] claims that both the school and the family have a major impact in a child's life and helps mould their development. [Reference needed] and [Reference needed] supports this view in their paper [Reference needed], which argues that the sphere of influence of the school and the family are not separate and distinct, but rather overlap to socialize and educate children.
For the most part, student achievement is expressed mostly in terms of academic performance. To this end, schools are viewed as the chief stimulus and are much criticized for the declining levels of student academic performance. But even within this highly narrow view of student achievement, is overwhelming evidence that parental involvement is the key to a student's academic success [Reference], [Reference] and [Reference]. As such, this dissertation is meant to explore the role of parental involvement in student achievement.
This paper begins by defining the key terms - student achievement and parental involvement. It then examines the underlying assumptions of this research topic and justifies its importance. Further, the paper identifies the importance of parental involvement and explores the different types and evaluates how they affect the various aspects of student achievement. It goes on to investigate barriers to student achievement and then critically discusses contrary ideas and theories on the influences on student achievement. Finally, it concludes with various recommendations for effective parental involvement in student achievement.
DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
Traditional definitions of parental involvement are limited to school-related activities, such as helping children with homework, discussing children's experiences at school, communication with the school and participation in school-based activities (Sui-Chu & Willms, 1996; Deslandes & Bertrand, 2004; Walker et al., 2005; Green et al., 2007). According to Reynolds (1992) parental involvement is the interaction between parents and children which lends itself to the child's development. This would include several different forms of parental participation in education such as home-based activities (e.g. helping children with homework, providing encouragement), school-based activities (e.g. attending school functions and responding to school) and community-based activities (e.g. modelling appropriate behaviours). For the purpose of this study, the latter definition will be employed.
Parental involvement affects student achievement.
(Does parental involvement have positive effects on student achievement? If so, what type of involvement works best?)
Students can achieve
(What elements of student achievement am I going to look at?)
Students have parents (or guardians)
(Do students have parents or guardians?)
The attitude of parents towards their children and their children's "success" in life, is strongly shaped by their own background and environment. In their book, Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything, Levit & Dubner 2005 suggest that "It isn't so much a matter of what you do as a parent; it's who you are." If Levitt and Dubner are to be believed, then parental involvement in schools would be a waste of parental time. Yet in many countries, there has been a push in the education community to reform schools, giving a more important role to parents. Plans to foster parental involvement have been already scaled up to the national level, and include in some respects the US "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001. In an address by the Hon. Dr. Tim Gopeesingh, Minister of Education at the Frank B. Seepersad Memorial Teacher of the Year Award 2010 Ceremony, he reiterated the then Education Minister (now Honorable Prime Minister) Kamla Persad-Bissessar's promise that universal secondary education was implemented so no child would be left behind.
In the more economically developed countries (MEDCs), Parents are actively involved in their children's education at all ages. Parental involvement can be defined as the direct effort provided by the parent, to increase the educational outcomes of their children. Better educational outcomes for one's child are the motivation behind most attempts at defining parental involvement by education scholars. Cunha & Heckman  conclude that parental inputs are relatively more effective in raising non-cognitive skills than cognitive skills, and that critical stages for the development of non-cognitive skills occur until late into childhood, in contrast to critical stages for cognitive skill development which are located in early childhood
Parental time is a quantitatively important input into the education production function
Aizer  focused on the impact of adult supervision after school on behavioural outcomes for children aged 10 to 14, and found that the adult supervision is associated with a decrease in risky or anti-social behaviour