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By Alan Solomon, Ph.D.

Parent Involvement Important in Student School Success

Recent evidence about student achievement in school shows that parental involvement is the single most powerful predictor of student success in school. It is more important than income or social status of the family. More specifically, student success is enhanced when the family:

a) Creates a home environment that encourages learning;
b) Expresses high (but not unrealistic) expectations for their children's achievement and future careers.
c) Becomes involved in their children's education at school and in the community.

With these conditions in place, children not only do better in school, but they also go farther in their educational endeavors, and the schools they go to become better. By working together to support learning, schools and parents help their children succeed throughout life. When schools support families to develop the above three conditions, children from low-income families and diverse cultural backgrounds approach the grades and test scores of middle-class children.

These findings were recently published by the Center for Law and Education in Washington, DC, based on a review of 66 studies in preschools, elementary, and secondary schools throughout the country. School programs included parents being engaged in school decision-making, as well as offering parenting classes on basic child rearing skills. Editors of the study were Ann T. Henderson and Nancy Berla.

Resources for Parents

A new website on children's mental health has been launched by New York University Child Study Center. The site is aimed at helping kids, their parents, educators, pediatricians, and mental health professionals better understand child mental health issues. It contains a comprehensive listing of childhood psychological issues, symptoms of more serious difficulties, and links to further investigate and address the problems. The site also posts current articles, follows research studies, answers commonly asked questions, and allows the user to browse through information. There is a bookstore with books selected by health professionals. Website address:

A nationwide campaign has been launched to help parents talk with their children about violence. TV and radio public service ads are part of this "Talking with Kids About Tough Issues" effort. For more information, contact:

Talking with Kids
1212 Broadway, Fifth floor
Oakland, CA 94612

In Southern California, the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring (CICC) is building on research about parental participation in student's school success to develop new programs with school districts to involve parents in the education of their children. CICC also offers parenting programs, workshops for instructors for parenting programs, publications at discounted prices, current news and research in the parenting field. Contact:

Center for the Improvement of Child Caring (CICC)
11311 Ventrua Blvd., Suite 103
Studio City, CA 91604
800 325-2422



By Dorothea McArthur, Ph.D.

In a continuing education workshop on The Social Side of Learning Disabilities, Mel Levine revealed a list of actions that are counterproductive when a child with Learning Difficulties and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder does something inappropriate:

  1. Yelling because children with LD and ADHD are sensitive to noise and all they hear is the yelling
  2. Cheap shots
  3. Time out as a punishment
  4. Extra chores
  5. Corporeal punishment
  6. Taking possessions away
  7. Taking away something the kid is really looking forward to that is unrelated to the misbehavior
Instead Mel Levine suggests that we can:
  1. Use positive reinforcement because it changes behavior while negative reinforcement only stops behavior.
  2. Give immediate and definite feedback about related consequences for misbehavior.
  3. Provide structure.
  4. Be pro active instead of reactive: anticipate and head off problems before they happen.
  5. Reward for successive approximation; that is getting closer and closer to the desired behavior.
  6. Use broken record approach instead of getting into an argument. Use descriptive praise.
  7. Begin and end a confrontation with a positive remark about behavior. Put the needed changes in the middle.
  8. Plan when and where to do confrontation. Never let it be in front of a friend.

Finally, Levine acknowledged that kids who are doing well academically and socially collect thousands of poker chips (symbol of self-esteem) as they go through each day. LD kids often have far fewer. They tend to not take risks because they might then lose the few that they have. They are easily taken away by people who do not understand. It is our job as parents and teachers to make sure that we give as many poker chips as we can. We need to make sure that our children with LD and ADHD go to bed with more poker chips than they woke up with that morning. We can give them nonverbally and verbally, and by helping them in the many ways that are needed to make them feel loved and supported.