PTOtoday.com had a great article recently about parent involvement. It suggested that building parent involvement with schools was the most important thing parent groups could do, and perhaps the most difficult. There are lots of reasons that parents say they are not more involved, including: 1) they do not have enough time; 2) they do not feel comfortable at school because of their age or limited English skills; and 3) their schedules will not allow time in school.
Parent groups can address each of those issues - encouraging all parents to give whatever they can, even an hour each month, doing something they can do from home, or in the evening or on the weekends, but those are not the only barriers. Maybe they just do not realize that it matters to the long term health of their children.
There are some compelling reasons why parents should be involved with schools, and a new book called "A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement," by Henderson & Berla sums it up -- when parents are involved in their childrens education at home, the children do better in school and go farther in school. Specifically,
They get better grades;
Score higher on tests;
Attend school regularly;
Have better social skills;
Have a more positive attitude about school;
Enjoy school more;
Complete more of their homework;
Are more involved in extracurricular activities; and
Graduate more often.
It is never too late, but the earlier you start being involved with schools, the more pronounced the impact is on your children, and it matters that you are involved at each grade level. In high school if your teen does not really want you around their friends, join a committee and work with other parents. It also matters that both parents are involved - not just the moms - Dads matter!