Connecting Parental Support with Student Achievement

By Bagby, Janet; Sulak, Tracey | Montessori Life, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

Connecting Parental Support with Student Achievement


Bagby, Janet, Sulak, Tracey, Montessori Life


An article in the last issue oí Montessori Life ("Connecting Homework Effectiveness with Montessori Practice," Volume 26, Number 4, Winter 2014-15) indicates that parental involvement in homework may not always have a positive outcome on achievement, particularly with older students or when the parental involvement results in homework surveillance. With that in mind, how can parents support their children's achievement more effectively?

First, parents can have high expectations and aspirations for their children and communicate these in a supportive, edifying manner (Hong & Ho, 2005). These expectations can be short-term (proximal), such as what grade a child will receive on a project, or long-term (distal), such as the level of degree a child will pursue as an adult (Yamamoto & Holloway, 2010). Having distal expectations for a child appears to have a greater lasting effect. To develop this type of expectation, parents can have conversations with their child about the importance of education, while emphasizing the child's role in reaching these expectations. For example, focusing on shortterm goals, like reading grade-level books, may help children develop a goal-oriented approach to future planning, and this skill may lead to a better ability to set realistic, long-term goals. And when students have control over their own studies and parents have high hopes for their children's future, student achievement is higher.

While high expectations for children may lead to greater academic achievement, many of the practices that are mistakenly believed to be high expectations actually hurt children's achievement. Research shows that imposing restrictions for low grades and/or implementing external rewards depress student achievement and can have a negative effect on performance (Hong & Ho, 2005). Students exposed to these types of punitive measures actually perform worse than students whose homework is not regulated by parents. Structural elements, like strict rules regarding homework and schedules for completing tasks, show similar results (Jeynes, 2007).

Second, parents can learn to communicate openly with their children. Parenting is extremely rewarding, but it can also be stressful, particularly when a parent is concerned about a child's achievement. However, being supportive and warm, rather than controlling or imposing negative consequences, will more likely lead to open communication (Jeynes, 2007). To better facilitate open communication, parents need to develop skills associated with an authoritative style of child-rearing.

Authoritative child-rearing involves high acceptance and sensitivity to the child's needs and provides reasonable, consistent expectations, while permitting the child to make developmentally appropriate decisions (Berk, 2012). …

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