Reducing dropout begins at home: The importance of parental involvement

When a child is happy and feeling positive thanks to the support of a caring adult, this disposition can make a significant difference to their learning journey and achievement at school. Photo supplied by Khula Development Group.

We know that parents and caregivers are not always sure how best to support their child’s academic development. This uncertainty may stem from a lack of confidence or hands-on experience in dealing with teachers and school administrators. The reality is that parental involvement is important to ensure they get the support they need to finish Grade 12.

The role of a caring adult in a child’s school life

Having a meaningful, trusting relationship with a caring adult can make a significant difference in a child’s ability to cope with day-to-day challenges that could lead to disengagement and school dropout. When a parent or caregiver shows interest in a child’s academic journey, we’re likely to see better educational outcomes.

In reality, this is easier said than done

There are many reasons why parents and caregivers are unable to engage sufficiently with their child’s educational needs, not to mention their socio-economic constraints.

Principals and teachers, therefore, take different approaches to involving parents or caregivers in school business. Some have regular parent meetings while others only see parents once a year. Some parents find it difficult to meet with teachers regularly because they have to travel long distances to get to the school.

What can schools do to help?

Educators should be proactive and imaginative if they want to get parents or caregivers to engage in school life. This starts with ensuring schools are family-friendly spaces. Secondly, parents or caregivers who are informed about their rights and responsibilities are more likely to get involved in their child’s education. And finally, schools should find innovative ways to inject enthusiasm and energy into the value of education.

Things parents or caregivers can do to support their child at school

A parent’s relationship with their child nurtures their physical, emotional and social development. It lays the foundation for the child’s personality, life choices and overall behaviour. It can also affect the strength of their social, physical, mental and emotional health.

  • Parental support is critical to ensure that a child stays in and succeeds at school.
  • It’s important to find ways to support educators and encourage others to do the same.
  • Make time to play, talk and read at home.
  • Parents should also take care of themselves and ask for support when they need it.

How to strengthen the relationship with your child

Build trust

From the day you brought your child home, you have worked on this relationship. As your child grows, the relationship between you and them may change, and it’s important to acknowledge that certain challenges that happen naturally will require you to put effort into trying to strengthen that bond.


Set aside 10-20 minutes every day to listen to your child. During this time it’s important to give your child your undivided attention. Try to make communication with your child a two-way process, with both of you listening and talking to each other. One of the best ways to do this is to talk to your child about the things that are important to them. Allow them to ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, try to find it together.

Highlight the positive

Congratulate or praise your child when he or she performs a task well. Reassure your child when they are struggling or face challenges. Give your child simple chores to help the family. This will make him/her feel important and build their self-esteem.

Source: Zero Dropout Schools Technical Report

Additional information supplied by Parent Power

Sign up to receive news and updates.