Websites like the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (www.ncpie.org) and Parent Involvement Matters (www.parentinvolvementmatters.org) encourage parents to become involved with their child's education.
When parents are involved with their student's education, the student has better social skills, attends school regularly, and passes classes, thereby earning more credits. The student also earns higher grades and tests scores, is more likely to enroll in higher level programs, graduate and go on to college.
Being involved means being at the school throughout the year by attending parent/teacher conferences, open house, and occasionally volunteering, as well as asking questions about the student's school-day experience, monitoring homework and encouraging the child's academic development.
The Michigan Department of Education published a document which states, "Family participation in education was twice as predictive of students' academic success as family socioeconomic status. Some of the more intensive programs had effects that were 10 times greater than other factors."
And the earlier involvement begins, the greater the effects.
The most interesting thing for me to learn was, "We found that increased family involvement in school had greater implications for children's literacy than did family income, maternal level of education, or child ethnicity."
The best thing a parent can do for their student is get involved. There are ways to make that connection without "giving up" a lot of time. Begin at home by modeling a love for learning. Turn off the TV and read a book. Give up a lunch hour once a month or once a quarter to visit your child's classroom to volunteer. Reading a book out loud to a group of first graders is the ultimate thrill. Trust me. Chaperone a field trip. Meet with your child's teacher for parent/teacher conference night.
And there are websites, seminars and workshops that can give you ideas.
If you are in the low-income bracket, there is hope. Just engaging in your student's school activities helps him achieve more. Reading to him helps improve his literacy. Showing you care about his education and what he's learning empowers him to learn more.