Parental involvement: how much is too much?

Author: Ivanhoe Newswire
Published: Updated:
Mom checks in with her children as they are doing homework. (Ivanhoe Newswire photo)
Mom checks in with her children as they are doing homework. (Ivanhoe Newswire photo)

Since day one, parents have always been told parental involvement is the key to their child’s academic success. But is there a point where being involved is more of a hindrance than help? A study from Duke University and the University of Texas at Austin details the best ways to help your child thrive in school.

Helping with homework has always been considered a bonus for kids. Now a new study finds those advantages start fading in middle school.

“Curriculum has changed definitely since I learned math,” said mom Courtney Hylton.
Researchers looked at data from kids from the time they were in the first grade to the twelfth. They also tracked 63 measures of parental involvements, such as helping with homework, taking about college, and meeting with teachers.

Duke researcher Angel Harris, PhD, told Ivanhoe, “Roughly 15 percent of the time, parental involvement was associated with increases in achievement. About 30 percent of the time, 35 percent of the time it was associated with decreases in achievement.”

Fifty percent of the time, it made no difference. The researchers also found across all racial groups helping with homework was found to lower achievement in reading and math. So what does help?

“Having expectations of your child to have education beyond high school seems to be associated with achievement across the board,” detailed Harris.

Professor Harris and his colleagues also found that reading out loud to young children made a difference, as did talking to older students about their college plans. Also, talking about the importance of school is associated with increases in math and reading.

Courtney’s daughter, Jordan, said her parents “just kind of encourage us to get better and that we will get there.”

The study also found that parents can improve kids’ academic performance by as much as eight points on a reading or math test by placing them in a classroom of a teacher with a good reputation. This is one example for which race did seem to matter. White parents are at least twice as likely as black and Latino parents to request a specific teacher.

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