Your Middle School Child (Still) Needs You

Your child is in middle school and is spreading his or her wings for the first time. Teens are learning and trying new things, and yearning for more independence. Your child may even ask you to back away from being involved with school.

However, the results of several studies are clear: when parents are actively involved in their child’s education, their child is more successful in school. Parents’ own education, economic level, race, or ethnic background are not predictors of their students’ success at school.

Even when teens try to push their parents away, secretly, they still need and want them involved. When parents are involved in middle and high school, both students and school benefit:

  • Grades and test results are higher
  • Students’ attitudes and behavior are more positive
  • Bullying decreases
  • School programs are more successful
  • And, schools, as a whole, are more effective.

The participation of parents, including those with limited knowledge of English, is important to the academic achievement of their children and has positive impacts for the family, the school, and the children:

  • The family has the opportunity to learn about the middle school system
  • Teachers can understand students who come from other cultures more easily
  • Children have a support system to help them cope with the challenges of growing up, especially when the challenges are accentuated by conflicting cultures of home, friends, and school.

Take an active role in your child’s education:

  • Ask your child about his or her classes, teachers, homework, and messages from school. Ask about the books they are reading at school or what activities are going on. Knowing that you care will help your child take school seriously.
  • Get to know the teachers, not just one. Attend open houses at school so you know who your child’s teachers are and they know you. Don’t wait for a problem to talk to them.
  • Make homework a priority. Provide a quiet space at home where your student can do homework without distractions. Establish a homework routine for your student to follow each day to show your child that you value their education.
  • Find out how to check on your child’s grades and weekly progress. Some schools have parent portals on their websites to keep up-to-date on school news and messages from teachers.
  • Meet with your child’s school counselor to talk about your concerns. Your child is participating in the New York GEAR UP Program and will be learning about colleges and careers. Talk to your child’s teachers and counselors about helping your child become college-ready.
  • If English is not your first language and you need assistance, ask for a translator or bring a bilingual friend or family member to parent-teacher meetings.
  • Encourage your child to join after-school clubs, sports, music groups, or other activities to meet new friends and gain confidence.
  • Volunteer at school whenever possible. You can chaperone a school party or dance, help with a club or activity, bake cookies, or something else. It’s good for you to meet other parents and be connected with the school community and reinforces the view in your child’s mind that school and home are connected and that school is an important part of family life. Even a few hours over the academic year makes a big difference.