Pragmatic Mom

December 10, 2009

Parenting A Teenager

Filed under: Age: High School,Age: Middle School,Parenting — Pragmatic Mom @ 12:04 am

My  husband sent me this article that his friend sent him.  Neither of us have teenagers yet but I guess my husband’s friend is also a repository of information.  And I did collect this tidbit at  a cocktail party from my neighbors with a teenage daughter:  drive your child to school in the morning  if s/he normally takes the bus.   S/he will appreciate the extra 15 minutes or so of sleep and will be in a good mood so will actually talk to you.  Taking your teenage daughter for a shopping and lunch outing is also the only time she gets a complete update on her daughter’s life.

In this Education Week article, Debra Viadero reports on some recent thinking about parent involvement at the secondary level. “Having your parents involved in a field trip is not wholly consistent with what an adolescent wants,” says Nancy Hill, a Harvard education professor who recently co-edited a book on the subject, Families, Schools, and the Adolescent (Teachers College Press, 2009). “When you look at parent-adolescent relationships, you see kids pushing back on decisions they want to have control of, and it’s much harder for parents to call schools and find out how kids are doing holistically, because they have so many teachers and their teachers see over 100 students a day.”
Hill and her colleagues have found that a number of parent-involvement ideas that seem to work at the elementary level are less effective for secondary students – among them, helping with homework (very little impact on student achievement) and visiting the school, volunteering, and attending school events (moderate impact). What parent activities do make a difference for older students? According to Hill’s research:
–      Communicating expectations for achievement
–      Discussing learning strategies
–      Linking school content and the child’s interests to outside activities
–      Working with the child to prepare for college
–      Fostering career aspirations and making plans for the future
Researchers call these types of parent involvement “academic socialization” and recommend that schools maximize them.
However, these practices don’t help all parents help their children. Hill has found that parents who didn’t themselves go to college are less successful in raising their children’s academic achievement, no matter how many parent-involvement activities they engage in. Schools need to guide these parents to make their efforts more effective, she says. “They should be saying, ‘Here are the courses you need to take, and if your child’s not ready for those courses, here is what you can do to get your child ready so the pathways lie open.’”
A chapter by Robert Crosnoe in Hill’s book goes deeper on this point, addressing the slippage that often happens as students move from middle to high school – the disconnect when high-school freshmen are placed in courses that don’t match with their previous preparation. This problem is most common for Latino youth. “Where high-school students start off their coursework is the best predictor of where they finish their coursework in high school,” says Crosnoe, “and where they finish their coursework is the best predictor for whether they go to college and whether they stay in college.”

“Researchers Explore Teens, Parents, Schools” by Debra Viadero in Education Week, Nov. 18, 2009 (Vol. 29, #12, p. 1, 14)


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