Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Parental Involvement in High School Can Increase Grades and Decrease Depression

High school is a tumultuous experience for many teenagers for a number of reasons. Along with the social, emotional, and physical changes that take place during this time, teenagers must face the added difficultly of navigating and preparing for their futures. A recently published study in the academic journal, Child Development, by Wang and Sheikh-Khalil (2014) found specific ways in which parents can help decrease the probability that their child will develop depression and increase the probability that they will achieve well in school.

Wang and Sheik-Khalil (2014) examined three different types of parental involvement that are known to improve academic achievement in teenagers. School-based involvement (parents helping out at school, visiting school for meetings, etc.), home-based involvement (assisting with homework, providing an environment for study, etc.), and academic socialization (talking about career goals, planning for higher education, etc.) were analyzed for their contribution to academic achievement and emotional well-being from one year to the next.

Academic socialization was the greatest predictor of academic achievement and increased emotional well-being after a year. Home based involvement was least predictive of academic achievement, and school based involvement was moderately predictive of better emotional well-being.

Taken together, it is best for parents to be engaged in the academic lives of their children, but more from a stance of advisers (academic socialization) and assistants rather than as tutors or administrators. This change may be hard for some parents who are used to the heavy school involvement needed during elementary and middle schools. The possible reason for the benefits of these types of changes in parental involvement during this developmental period in childhood could be related to the need for autonomy and individuality that teenagers strive for. It is important to note that even though teenagers value independence and want to appear capable of doing things on their own, they are still in need of guidance and support. This guidance and support can increase the likelihood they will fare better academically and emotionally in the long run.

What are some ways you think parents can show this "academic socialization" with teenagers?
Do you agree with the findings of this study?

Wang, M.-T. and Sheikh-Khalil, S. (2014), Does Parental Involvement Matter for Student Achievement and Mental Health in High School?. Child Development, 85: 610–625. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12153

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