In the past few years, several studies have explored the importance of the school-home connection. Here are some of the findings of these studies:
- The most accurate predictors of student achievement in school are not family income or social status, but rather the extent to which the family creates a home environment that encourages learning; clarifies high, yet reasonable, expectations for the child’s achievement; and becomes involved in their child’s education at school.
[National PTA. 2000. Building Successful Partnerships: A Guide for Developing Parent and Family Involvement Programs. Bloomington, Indiana: National Education Service, 11–12]
- Regardless of their family income or background, students whose parents are involved in their schooling are more likely to have higher grades and better test scores, attend school more regularly, develop better social skills, show improved behaviors, and adapt well at school.
[Henderson, A.T., and K.L. Mapp. 2002. A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. National Center for Family and Community Connections with Schools, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory]
- When parents are involved at their children’s schools, the performance of all the children at the school, not just their own, tends to improve. The more comprehensive and well planned the partnership is between schools and homes, the better the students’ achievement.
[Henderson, A.T., and Nancy Berla. 1995. A New Generation of Evidence: The Family Is Critical to Student Achievement. Washington, DC: Center for Law and Education, 14–16]
These are very popular studies that highlight the importance of Parental Involvement (PI) in their children’s education. While many other parental groups are increasingly getting more involved in their children’s education, Nigerian parents seem to be satisfied with doing the basics such as providing financial support and doing drop-offs and pickups.
While it is true that Nigerian-American children are on top their game as scholars in the American school system, an argument could be made that they would have done even better with across-the-board PI.
However, there are so many reasons why Nigerian parents are indifferent about getting involved in their children’s education. Seeking answers, I reached out to Nigerian parents to determine the major reasons why PI is low. Here are the major reasons:
Comparing the American School System to Nigeria
Nigerian parents often compare the American system to the Nigeria system. These parents come from a legacy school system that does not place any emphasis on PI, so their underlying assumption is that if they did well in such a school system, then their children should have an easier time in the United States. This line of thinking generates apathy towards PI among Nigerian parents in the United States. It is still evident, though, that it is better to engage in a system in order the get the best out of it.
Lack of Panning in the Family
In the United States, planning is everything in a society where success is exclusively a function of detailed planning and a very structured life. Many Nigerian parents do not have the skills to plan for the details of everyday life in America. The most time they allocate between work and social engagements is a short time to drop off and pick up their kids up from school. Consider Chinese-Americans, for instance. Their everyday lives are well planned and structured. In fact, their lives are planned around PI with their children’s education. As a result, they are the most highly educated immigrant group in the United States.
Excessive Social Involvement
Social engagement is related to the degree of participation in collective group events. While it is true that participation in group activities and events reinforces social norms and builds social capital, creating a healthy balance to make time for other important things is necessary. Between social involvement and work, many Nigerian parents do not have the time for active parental involvement in their children’s education.
In the past 10 years, the work-life balance in the United States has become the focus of most employers. In 2010, the National Health Interview Survey Occupational Health Supplement found that an increasing number of American workers were having difficulty balancing work and family. Nigerians are not immune to this national phenomenon. But other immigrant groups are learning to plan their finances in order to have a healthier work-family balance. For example, they do not indulge in the frivolous and extravagant lifestyles for which the Nigerians are known. Therefore, they have time for PI in their children’s education.
While this may not be an inclusive list as to why PI is low among Nigerian parents, it seems to show the more prevalent points. Therefore, I invite you to participate and share your opinions to improve the quality of this discussion.