Adolescents benefit when parents stay active throughout high school
The basic elements of family involvement in education-parenting, home-school relationships and responsibility for learning-are important at all levels of schooling. But as students move into middle and high school, those elements need to adjust to take into account adolescents' social, academic and personal changes. A new brief from the Harvard Family Research Project looks at some of the research on family involvement for secondary students as well as the implications of that research for policy, for practice and for future studies.
Effective family involvement for students in this group (roughly ages 11 to 17) has to build on the fact that "adolescents desire autonomy, independence and time with peers, but at the same time, they continue to rely on guidance from parents and other adults," the authors say.
When it comes to parenting style, they note, "warm, responsive parenting" is related to school success and positive social and emotional outcomes. The authors contrast the positive outcomes related to authoritative parenting-firm but democratic-with the less successful authoritarian style, which is strict and features unilateral decision-making on the part of parents. At the other extreme, disengaged parents also are less effective in promoting their children's school success.
Parenting style comes out in the area of monitoring-parents' attempts to know what's going on in an adolescent's life. "Monitoring of social activities, such as being aware of an adolescent's whereabouts, decreases school problems, substance abuse and delinquency, and promotes social competence and good grades," the brief says. "By monitoring adolescents' academic and social lives, parents can prevent emerging problems from becoming big ones, foster identity achievement and promote academic growth."
Even more specific to education, the report points out the positive impact on students' academic achievement that results from higher levels of parental attendance and volunteering at school functions. Parents who are more involved at school are better informed about their children's social and academic progress, and they can get the information they need to help make good decisions about their children's academic futures.
This is especially true …