Many parents who are actively involved in the education of their children at the elementary school level typically become less involved when their children reach middle school. However, parent involvement during the middle school years is just as important to a child’s success as it is in earlier grades.
Children experience the second-largest growth period in their lives during the adolscent years. As they grow, they begin to experience physical, intellectual, emotional and social changes. These are confusing times for the adolescent learner. These changes, along with the added demands of increased academic rigor and expectations of school, activities and peer pressure, create conflicts and tension in the adolescent, which can lead to increased mental health issues and conflict in school and at home.
The participation of all parents is important to the academic achievement and mental well-being of their children. Such participation has many positive consequences for the family, the school, and especially for the young adolescent:
- The family better understands school expectations and operations.
- The student receives support from adults, at home and at school in order to confront and navigate the issues of the ever-evolving adolescent. Adult support is particularly important where these problems are accentuated by the conflicting cultures of home, friends and school.
- The school can become the natural extension of the home, aiding in the preservation of families’ cultures, morals and values.
- When parents become involved and team with the school, both the students and schools benefit. We see higher academic achievement, students’ attitudes and behaviors are more positive, less mental health issues, academic programs are more successful, and the schools as a whole are more effective.
There are many ways that parents can demonstrate to their adolescent children that they are interested in academic success and that they are available to offer support and protection when there are problems. Here are some suggestions:
- Talk with your child about daily happenings at school. Both academically and socially.
- Find ways to spend some stress-free time with your child. Share a meal or a snack. Make sure they know the positive attributes you like about them
- Listen to and share their concerns. Support what you believe to be good about the school and offer your help to change practices that you believe could enhance your child’s educational experience.
- Avoid scoldings and arguments when your teenagers bring bad news home. It’s better be a listener and suggest ways to improve the situation.
- Show that you value education by encouraging homework completion and reading. Establish a consistent time and place for them to do their homework that is void of distraction
- Establish a positive relationship with teachers early in the year. This makes it easier to have constructive conversations in times of difficulty.
- Avoid comparing sibling experiences as each child’s experience is unique to them.
- Get to know the guidance counselors. They can keep you informed regarding the progress and behavior of your child, and they are a good resource for added support you may need.
- Read the student/parent handbook carefully and stay updated with the day-to-day happenings at the school through the daily announcements and Campus Messenger.
- Keep informed about your child’s grades and test results, especially in any subjects in which he or she struggles, through the parent portal.
The results of recent research are very clear: When parents are actively involved in their children’s education, they do better in school. It is essential for parents to have a positive attitude regarding education, and to demonstrate trust that their children can do well.