Parent Involvement & Middle School

I’ve gotten a chance to read more carefully a report on parent involvement and middle school that I’ve previously posted about.

You can read the study here, though I suspect you won’t learn anything new from it.

It suggests that schools should focus on building relationships with parents through programs like home visits. Sounds good to me! Of course, it doesn’t suggest where schools might get the resources to do or expand those efforts, but that might very well not have been within the scope of the paper.

It also suggests that schools tell parents about the importance of:

speaking effectively with their children about the importance of education and helping them think about their futures. Indeed, middle school students, who are both seeking independence and at risk of disengaging from school, might be in particular need of academic socialization. Parents can help their children to think about what education means to them, to set their own goals for schooling, and to decide how best to reach them.

I agree that many parents and their kids could benefit from this kind of assistance. However, it can also easily come off as very paternalistic. A recommendation like this particular one requires an accompanying guide to schools and teachers about what to say, how to say it, when to say it, and how to frame it. Without it, this kind of strategy can blow up in a teacher’s and a school’s face….

2 thoughts on “Parent Involvement & Middle School

  1. It sure does sound paternalistic. Most unsolicited parenting advice does.

    It also assumes that the parents share the educational goals and philosophies of the school. Given how little say parents now have over education policy, that’s not a safe assumption. I don’t at all share the federally-imposed philosophy that education is all about raising test scores, no matter what other values are sacrificed.

  2. Last school year I attended a whole plethora of parent engagement workshops and trainings and a lot of parents who were at these same trainings/workshops indicated that the schools don’t communicate with them enough. This is frustrating given the fact that our budgets have been slashed, we have had to eliminate several positions that were dedicated to parent involvement and engagement, and the PTSA at our school was formed only last year because a bunch of teachers – not parents – felt the need to have one.

    One of the things I’ve noticed as a teacher of Middle School students for the past ten years is that parents who were actively engaged at the elementary school next door simply drop off their 6th-8th graders and wave good bye, coffee in hand. I think the perception is that once a student reaches middle school, he or she doesn’t need mom or dad holding their hands as much when that is precisely the time they need their parents the most. Middle schoolers start to experience the rage of hormones, have to learn how to balance 6 teachers with 6 different styles and expectations, and engage socially with 6 times more kids.

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