A Parent and Teacher's Guide to Family
Involvement for High School Students
Students | Career Exploration
| Parent's Roles
Low Socioeconomic Status Students
Education is faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of
students from all walks of life. Educators can benefit from studying
case studies, particularly that of Mixon et al. (2014) of six high
school students with diverse backgrounds from a low achieving
school. These particular students found success from highly specific
aspects corners of their life. The purpose for studying these
students is for teachers who may not understand the home life of
students where family contributions are little or students need to
take on additional responsibilities outside of school. Teachers must
learn from case studies and research to support exceptional students
to succeed in their given circumstances.
From the case studies and stories from these six successful
successful students (Mixon et al., 2014), there are some need to
knows for teachers working with students who come from common
challenging communities where parents may not be able to provide
support to their student. Each suggestion comes from Mixon et al.'s
(2014) case study, which should be noted that these students have
experienced unique circumstances which can not necessarily be
generalized to similar students. Effective teachers should pay
attention to their students' needs and should support the
involvement of the family and community as much as are able. These
particular students were chosen for this case study because of their
exceptional family and community contribution. Suggestions (made in
italics) are tips for teachers who encounter these exceptional
circumstances. Comments are made in the strengths section to help
teachers create strong learners in their classroom, especially when
working with low socioeconomic populations.
Challenges to be aware of (suggested from case study):
- Absent Fathers
- Did not learn how to be a man because they were not taught.
Encourage students to join mentorship initiatives.
- Unclear role for African American adolescents in society. Teachers
can help students create positive roles within class.
- Took additional responsibilities a father would
traditionally adopt resulting in growing up faster.
- Some claim as a positive because this responsibility
removed negative influences.
- Lack of stability in the home
- Motherly figure sick or unable to provide leads to needing
to fend for self and seek others to assist.
- Seek money in legal ways (such as a job) when no money is
available. Provide community resources to assist students
working efforts, provide flexibility with class
- Acts as a family support to younger siblings who crave
stability. Listen to the needs of the student so they may
also provide good support.
- Negative Peer and Community Influences
- Feeling of no community support for positive endeavors. Teachers
can create classroom communities to support
- Drugs, alcohol, fighting, sex trade, etc. prominent in the
community. Unsafe community. Make the classroom a
welcoming, safe community which fosters learning.
- Inadequate School Experiences
- Perceived lack of care from teachers and administration. Teachers
make personal connections with students to demonstrate care
and respect towards students.
- Lack of support in the educational system. School staff
needs to regularly reject the deficit theory and believe all
students can achieve.
- Prior experiences of negative self worth and low
expectations. Continue providing students with positive
self worth and high (attainable) expectations to outnumber
the negative experiences and low standards of the past.
Supports that have worked in the past:
- Spiritual Growth
- All participants expressed strong spiritual growth. Form
an identity outside of school and home which promotes good,
strong, consistent morals.
- Deep reflection to look past negative influences and school
perceptions. Community encouragement which promotes good
- Helped keep focused on positives in a student life, promoted
- Responsibility to Maternal Figure
- The sight of mother and sibling struggle drives the students
to make their mother proud. This leads to high achievement
and high personal expectations which tend to be more
powerful than suggested expectations.
- Maternal figure serves as a guide to educational journey.
- Helpful School Personnel:
- When students asked for help, they sought teachers and
administrators they knew would listen. Often students do
not know the proper etiquette to ask for help and teachers
may perceive the request as disrespectful, however the
student really WANTS and needs help.
- Student provided the teacher or administrator with the
solution to the problem. This may be an encouraging idea
for any student, teachers and administrators are impressed
with the students ability to problem solve.
- Specific teachers showed care and concern. Be the
teacher all students can rely on.
- Inner Motivation to Succeed
- All students in this study fell down the "wrong road" at one
point but came to realize their larger responsibility and need
for improvement. Help students recover from past mistakes,
they are learning in school and in life. Have faith that
students are making improvements!
- Drive to be better than they were before.
Special Needs Students
As part of a successful special education program, schools and
teachers are expected to create transition plans for students who
are part of the special education program. Plans are made for
students who are full time enrolled in special education, but also
for students who use additional assistance in general education
classes. Parents of students who are enrolled in special education
have many additional responsibilities that general education
students do not face. The inclusion of students in the transition
plan meetings is relatively new and participation is highly
correlated with students success in transition (Griffin et al.,
As discussed in the Parent's Roles section, parental involvement
positively impacts student achievement. During transition planning
for students in special education, the role of the parent is to
provide encouragement, create opportunities and assist students in
exploration of post-graduation plans. "By engaging in conversations
at home, students are likely more aware of the issues around
transition, and likely benefit from practice in communicating their
perspectives" (Griffin et al., 2014, pp 261).
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