Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
Title: What is the right amount of parent involvement in a child’s schooling?
There are few things that create more guilt, fear and feelings of failure for parents than seeing our children do badly in school.
Healthy parent involvement means being aware of your kids’ assignments, asking questions about these assignments, and helping them if they ask. It means giving ideas and allowing them to do the lion’s share of the work.
Unhealthy parent involvement means constantly reminding and rescuing, essentially taking more responsibility for their work than they do.
Healthy parent involvement means allowing your kids to evaluate how they feel about their performance. This might sound something like, “You have a sixty-nine in music so far. How do you feel about that?” or asking, “You earned a ninety-eight on that test. How does that leave you feeling?” Kids allowed to own the good and not-so-good feelings associated with their performance are more likely to understand and care about the connection between their own personal efforts and outcomes.
Unhealthy parent involvement means making it all about our adult feelings. This might sound like, “That sixty-eight in music is just not acceptable. You need to bring that grade up” or it may sound like, “You earned a ninety-eight on that test. That makes me so happy. That’s great.” When we make their grades about our feelings we run the risk of stealing opportunities for them to think about how their grades affect them.
Learning is something that we cannot make another person do. The harder we try, the more they rebel and the more our relationship with them suffers.
Healthy parent involvement means putting most of our energy into providing a healthy home where kids are loved, expected to complete chores, and where they get to experience the gift of a real relationship between cause and effect.
When children "learn" by thinking rather than doing, they will obviously get some poor grades. Responding with sincere empathy rather than anger makes all of the difference: "I can't imagine how bad it must feel to get that grade. I love you. Let me know how I can help."
Unhealthy parent involvement means spending so much time criticizing our child’s school and rescuing them from their teachers rather than focusing on making a rock-solid home environment.
Healthy parent involvement means allowing our kids to hear us talking positively about our own learning, and hear us say positive things about their teachers and their school. (If there’s a problem at school, that can be taken up with the teacher or principal privately.) What kids overhear is often far more powerful than what they are told.
Unhealthy parent involvement involves providing lectures about how important education is while allowing our kids to hear us complain about how subpar the school and teachers are.
Overall, healthy parent involvement means being good role models. It means allowing kids to make mistakes. It means providing lots of empathy when they do.
(From the Love and Logic Institute, loveandlogic.com)