A Parent and Teacher's Guide to Family Involvement for High School Students

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Parent's Roles

The role of a parent in student success throughout elementary and secondary education is widely supported by research, however, the presence of parents in secondary school is much smaller than the elementary counterparts. Part of this responsibility falls on the teacher who has struggled to request specific help from families in student's educational processes. Teachers should specifically direct parents and families on how to become active members in the learning community (Rogers, et al., 2014). The role of the family is very important for student achievement, however parents need to learn how to support students at home as well as participate at school. Additional responsibility falls on the changing role of the family unit to include non-traditional families. There is more specific discussion in Exceptional Students section about how community members and teachers can help students who are overcoming significant adversity.

At Home

The chances of coaxing parents with full time jobs to assist in the classroom is unrealistic, however, teachers can provide research based tools for parents to use at home. Parental involvement at home leads to higher academic success (Rogers et al., 2014; Strom et al., 2014; Ing, 2014; Bicknell, 2013; Degner, 2013). The benefit of parental involvement at home is huge and leads to lower dropout rates, fewer students retained or placed in special education and a general more positive attitude towards school (Rogers et al., 2014). The following suggestions provide parents tools to increase home involvement.

Many parents turn to rewarding students for their academic success. Ing (2014) warns parents to consider the difference between intrinsic reward and extrinsic reward. By extrinsically rewarding students, such as with money or video games, students may learn that academic behavior is only valuable when something is returned to the student. On the other hand, intrinsic reward provides pleasure directly based on the activity itself (such as the joy of lighting the rocket the student just designed). There is a careful balance between these two reward systems however parents should work to use extrinsic reward to teach students delayed gratification and transition to intrinsic reward (such as verbal praise). At Home Practices for Parents

"Parents can influence self-concept, belief and goals by telling their children they are smart and that they should go to college, which indirectly affects their child's career decisions" (Ing, 2014, pp 89). The role of families influencing students' education in high school should be to expose students to different worldly views and provide the student with options for choosing their own successful futures. One practice which can have a drastic influence on student achievement is student placement in seventh grade mathematics (which often provides more options for students to select tracks) (Ing, 2014). Parents may be hesitant to place their student in accelerated or advanced classes because in high school, students tend to exceed their parent's abilities in specific topics (mathematics, science, English, current world problems, etc.). Regardless of the student's academic abilities, parents still play a crucial role. They can provide stability, encouragement, teach students the value of hard work (Bicknell, 2013) and more importantly how to be resourceful to find answers to difficult questions. Researchers suggest particular roles for parents, such as "parent as a monitor" or  "parent as an advocate" however, the most important role for parents to play is to listen to students needs and teach their child the skills needed to be contributing members of a community.

At School

While participation during school hours may not be realistic for working parents, the role of parents in school has a statistically significant impact on student performance (Bicknell, 2013). For example, activities such as:

can positively impact student achievement. Additionally, parents can encourage students to become involved in extra curricular activities, such as clubs, sports, arts, academic teams or religious groups, which are proven to decrease student stress and improve student achievement (Bicknell, 2013). Parental involvement is particularly important for students with low Socioeconomic status background.

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