Student Assistance Programs: Helping to Close the Achievement Gap
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, children’s earliest interactions with drugs occur in the family, and family situations sometimes heighten a child’s risk for later drug abuse and other risk behaviors. For example, some of these situations are:
- A lack of attachment and nurturing by parents or caregivers
- Parenting difficulties
- Caregivers who abuse drugs
Families can provide protection from later alcohol and other drug abuse when there is:
- A strong bond between children and parents
- Parental involvement in the child’s life
- Clear limits and consistent enforcement of discipline
How a Student Assistance Program Can Help
Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) can recommend various parenting programs, such as Active Parenting and Strengthening Families.
According to Boys Town , there are things parents can do to encourage a sense of closeness and unity, build strong relationships with, and instill values in their children. One factor is school success.
Although schools are primarily responsible for children’s academic learning, parents need to work with schools to make this happen. Parents can do this in various ways:
- Participate in their children's education. This means attending parent-teacher conferences, reviewing the papers their children bring home each day, and ensuring that their children are working to their full potential.
- Support their children's teachers. Teaching is a difficult job under the best of circumstances. If a teacher calls to report on a child's behavior, parents should take the report seriously. If their children have engaged in inappropriate behavior, parents should address this and correct their children. The parents should make their expectations for their children’s behavior in school clear and the same as the teachers’. If parents disagree with a teacher, they should discuss their concerns in private—never in front of the child.
- Be active in their children's school. There are many ways to become involved, and a call to the teacher or the school office is the first step. Often, parents are motivated to work with their children's schools during the early years but tend to lose interest as their children get older. But studies show that preteens are much more likely to succeed if their parents take an active interest in how they are doing in school (America Goes Back to School).
Teacher and School Intervention
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are several ways to encourage parent and family involvement.
- Be family-friendly. Review school policies, newsletters, and correspondence for jargon that parents might not readily understand. Open your doors to parents, community members, and businesses as part of America Goes Back to School. Get involved.
- Reach out to families and talk regularly before any problems happen. Use newsletters, voice mail, cable TV, home visits, and new technologies to keep parents and teachers informed about school activities of mutual interest.
- Encourage family involvement in the school setting, and let family members know what they can do at home to help. Use interesting, real-life community settings to stimulate learning.