This series of articles was written for the Birchwood community by Head of School, Charles Debelak, and can be found in the Birchwood School of Hawken 2013-14 Clipboard Newsletter. The purpose of Mr. Debelak's Clipboard articles is to provide parents with information about sound educational principles and child development issues gleaned from history, contemporary research, and Mr. Debelak's 40+ years of educating, coaching, and counseling children, young adults, and parents.
It has been long understood that parenting efforts have the greatest impact on student achievement. Jeanne Chall, emeritus professor of education at Harvard, until her death in 1999, cites research in The Academic Achievement Challenge: What Really Works in the Classroom, “the home process variables that have been found to be the best predictors of school learning were:”
Work habits of the family: priority given to schoolwork over other pleasurable activities.
Academic guidance and support: availability and quality of help and encouragement parents give their children in their schoolwork.
Stimulation to explore and discuss ideas and events: opportunities provided by the home to explore ideas, events and the larger environment.
Language environment: opportunities in the home for the development of the correct and effective use of language.
Academic aspirations and expectations: parents’ aspirations for children, standards they set for children’s school achievement, and their interest in and knowledge of children’s school experiences.
Concerning the school/home relationship she further notes: “When home and school have divergent approaches to life and learning, children are likely to suffer in their school learning. Conversely, when home and school have similar emphasis on motivation and learning, children are likely to do well … process variables in the home predict scholastic ability and achievement better than do measures of social class, family structure, or parental characteristics.”