Connecting the Dots: Parental Involvement in Children’s Education Starts with Adult Literacy

January 31, 2014 at 12:07 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Jay Mathews writes about reaching students through their parents to achieve academic success in this week’s Washington Post;

Mathews states that “the most promising initiatives have educators visiting parents at their homes”  and also refers to the success of a New Jersey educator who pulls out his cell phone and calls the father of a disruptive student as the bad behavior occurs.  This article is just one more call for increased parent involvement as a hugely important part of student success. 

This is not the first time we have heard about the importance of parent engagement as a predictor of a child’s success in school.  One of the challenges we see in the Northern Virginia region is lack of parent engagement due to a lack of English language skills. So much of the school/parent connection: parent teacher conferences, PTA involvement, and of course, parental access of the technology that is supposed to aid in all of this, (email and Blackboard or other online posting of homework or test dates), is just not an option for the English illiterate parent.

When will our society connect the dots about how English language literacy of parents has such a profound effect on kids, and their potential?  In this current academic year, 54% of Fairfax County Public School kindergarten parents are deemed language minority.  Wouldn’t supporting English language and literacy education for these kindergarten parents help their children succeed in the important school years ahead? I think Jay Mathews and all the studies that advocate increased parent involvement as a tool for academic success would agree that the impact of increased English literacy of parents would be a significant positive step for kids.

Anne Spears_photo5_smallAnne Spear, LCNV tutor, tutor trainer
and board member
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road, Falls Church, VA 22042



  1. My student has a good working knowledge of English but still would prefer to have a translator present when talking to guidance counselors. I remind her that it is OK to ask someone to speak more slowly or explain something. She is good about getting her email but sometimes doesn’t understand the significance of what she is reading – for example, her daughter who is great in English was getting a D because she wasn’t turning in work – she asked me whether a D was bad. Schools with a large population of immigrants offer a lot of support, especially to Spanish-speaking parents, so it is important that we get our adult students to be more involved even when their English is still limited. My student even volunteered at the school.


    • Thanks for your comment, Pat. LCNV appreciates the perspective of our instructors on matters of this importance, the educational success of our learners and their children. Keep up the great work!


  2. A wonderful element of adult education, especially family literacy classes, is that by supporting mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grown siblings and caregiving grandparents, not only is parent involvement reinforced, but the whole family becomes engaged in education.


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