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Evolving Parent Involvement

Elementary, middle, high school or college students can significantly benefit from high levels of parental involvement in their education. Some studies suggests regardless of family income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to perform better academically, socially and emotionally in school (http://www.nea.org/tools/17360.htm). The ideal nature of parental involvement varies with the student’s grade/classification in school. Elementary students benefit from parents reading to them and providing significant hands on assistance with homework. They are encouraged to meet with teachers and visit the school often for different events. However, college students depend on their use of critical thinking skills to handle school and life situations without their parent’s “chaperone.” Parents are not only discouraged, but forbidden by FERPA laws to discuss their students’ academic status with professors and other school staff without permission. At this stage in students’ lives, ideal parent involvement includes sending care packages, communicating regularly with the student, visiting the College on the day of their choice and encouraging student comprehensive communication with professors and advisors. Parents should discuss important meetings they will have and encourage good choices, but they should not try to manage their conversations or cover for their inappropriate behavior.

Even with the best intentions of all parties (students, instructors and parents), there are instances when students will struggle academically on any level. At these times, it is in the best interest of student success that all parties remain appropriate, respectful and accountable partners in education. Parents can advocate for their student on all levels without becoming an enemy of the school. It’s important however that parents advise students on the college level to advocate for themselves, while holding themselves accountable for their academic success. As the parental role evolves, sincere inquiries with their student can promote and encourage good discussions and independent decision-making. When students are encouraged and supported in their own accountability throughout their academic career, it helps to facilitate the social and emotional skills needed to be successful in college and careers as well.