When your child reaches high school, they are at an extremely fragile, emotional, physical and social point in their lives. Along with having to contend with an ever-changing and complex curriculum, it may be a surprise to find that statistically, most parents decrease support of their child in their high school academic life. Sandra Buckingham gives some tips.
Reasons for this lack of full parental support include intimidation by the complexity of high school curricula and shifting structures of middle and high schools. Fewer schools also reach out to include and involve parents in these new strategies and functions.
Another major role in the decline of parent influence stems from the desire for your teen to have autonomy. But this perceived desire for your teen to be free from your influence is most often misinterpreted as an all-encompassing desire to be free from ALL family involvement. The good news is, it's simply not true.
Studies have found that while it is most certainly obvious that the majority of teens do indeed desire autonomy, they have specific preferences to WHERE they want their freedom and it's not in your involvement in their academics. In fact, most teen students want you involved! And it's not just about helping out with homework (which you may not be able to cope with yourself given the changing academic environment from your time to theirs): it's actually all about EXPECTATIONS.
Harvard University studies have shown that children with parents who believed, verbalized and helped their kids during their high school years would believe the same of themselves and inevitably attain high academic achievement. In other words, if you expect your child to do well, you need to raise your and their expectations of their academic outcome. You need to communicate, support, encourage and set the highest goals for your child. You need to make them believe they can do it, and you need to help them achieve this in whatever way you can.
This is of course, more than a little intimidating! Here are a few points to get you started:
- Consult with your child's school and attempt to get them to empower teachers to involve parents and make it a part of their educational process. Empowered teachers = empowered parents = inspired teens = higher achievements.
- Communicate with your teen! Make family time for discussion and sharing common activities.
- Be consistent when enforcing rules. Help them understand the relationship of independence and responsibility.
- Encourage reading and homework, make it a natural part of their academic life.
- Make definite plans for tertiary studies. Your belief and expectations will rub off on your child in the best possible way!