Parent Involvement at the Middle School
parents who are actively involved in the education of their children at
the elementary school level become less involved when their children
reach middle school. However, parent involvement
in a child's education
during the middle school years (ages 10 to 14) is just as important a
factor in a child's success at school as it is in earlier grades. If
the school doesn't have a formal participation plan for parents, it is
important that parents take the initiative to continue their
involvement and collaboration in their children's school.
What Is a Middle School?
Middle schools are schools that group
students between the ages of 10 and 14. In some parts of the country,
children from fifth to ninth grades are grouped together; in other
parts, seventh- and eighth-graders are in one school. One of the most
common middle school arrangements groups children from sixth to eighth
What Are Middle Schoolers Like?
As children grow, they begin to
experience physical, intellectual, and emotional changes. The way they
learn, feel, see the world, and relate to other people becomes
different from when they were younger. These changes, along with
demands from present-day society and peer pressure, create conflicts
and tension in the adolescent, which are reflected in their behavior in
school and at home.
Young people at this age show a good
number of contradictions and conflicts, which is normal. There is no
"model" adolescent. All young persons are individuals with strong and
weak points and with positive and negative qualities. There are some
common characteristics that should be kept in mind in order to
understand and help the middle schooler in daily activities at home and
- Adolescents have high levels of
physical and emotional energy, which may contrast with long periods of
idleness, generally disapproved of by adults.
- They take risks, are curious, and
love danger and adventure, yet their feelings can be hurt easily. This
is the time when they feel immortal, but they worry a lot about what
their friends think about them.
- They want to be independent from
their families, and at the same time, they need to be pampered and
- They withdraw and want a private
life, and at the same time, they worry about being accepted by their
- They demand privileges but avoid
responsibilities. At the same time, they are developing an awareness of
social problems and the welfare of others.
from other cultures
sometimes face an additional burden as they develop their identities
and try to comply with the requirements of home and school. On one
side, they have the values and customs of the home that the family
wants to maintain, and on the other, they have to respond to the
demands of their peers and teachers, who have a different set of rules.
Why Is It Important For Parents
Be Involved at the Middle School Level?
The results of recent research are
very clear: When parents are actively involved in their children's
education, they do better in school. The academic level of the parents,
their socioeconomic level, and their ethnic or racial origin are not
determining factors for academic success. It is essential for parents
to have a positive attitude regarding education, and to demonstrate
trust that their children can do well.
How Will Your Children and Your
School Benefit From Your Involvement?
When parents become involved, both
students and school benefit:
- Grades and test results are higher;
- Students' attitudes and behavior
are more positive;
- Academic programs are more
- The schools, as a whole, are more
participation of all parents,
including those with limited knowledge of English, is important to the
academic achievement of their children. Such participation has many
consequences for the
family, the school, and especially for the young adolescent:
What Can Parents Do To Support
Education at Home?
- The family has the chance to
understand the school system better.
- The teachers can understand
students who come from other cultures more easily.
- The students receive support from
adults in order to confront the problems of adolescence-particularly
where these problems are accentuated by the conflicting cultures of
home, friends, and school.
- The school can become the natural
extension of the home, aiding in the preservation of families' cultures
There are many
ways that parents can
demonstrate to their adolescent children that they are interested in
academic success and that they are available to offer support and
protection when there are problems. Here are some
What Can Parents Do in the Middle
- Talk with your child about what
happens at school every day. Ask often if there are messages from the
- Spend some relaxed time with your
children. Share a meal or a snack. Tell them often what you like about
- Listen to and share their worries.
Support what you believe to be good about the school and offer your
help to change any school practices that you believe could be harmful
to your child.
- Avoid scoldings and arguments when
your teenagers bring bad news home. Listen to their reasons and offer
your help to improve the situation. It helps if your children know you
believe they will be successful.
- Value their education by
encouraging homework and reading. Help your children choose a good time
and place to do their assignments and special projects. Provide the
necessary materials and give them your unconditional support.
The way that parents
in the middle school can be somewhat different from what they were
accustomed to in the elementary school. Generally, the building is
larger, and it could be located farther from home. A middle school
student may have several teachers, not just one as in the elementary
school. The schedule is probably more complicated.
Don't be surprised if your
teenagers feel embarrassed when you go to their school. It is not
uncommon for them to resent their parents' presence at school. Here are
some suggestions to increase your involvement:
- Get to know several teachers, not
just one. Don't wait for a problem to talk to them.
- Keep in touch with the guidance
counselors. They generally know all of the students in the school, and
they can keep you informed regarding the progress and behavior of your
- Read all information on school
policies and curriculum carefully. Normally, schools send this
information home at the beginning of the school year.
- Review your child's school records
each year. It is your right, and you should know what information is in
- Keep informed about your child's
grades and test results, especially in any subjects in which he or she
has problems. Ask for help if it is needed.
- Request periodic meetings with the
teachers. If you don't speak or understand English, ask for a
translator or bring a bilingual friend or family member with you.
Request information concerning programs that the school offers for
students with limited English proficiency. Be sure your child is placed
in the program that best meets his or her needs.
- Get to know other parents and form
support groups to work on problems and issues of mutual interest.
- Answer notes and other
correspondence the school sends. If you do not understand these
messages due to language problems, ask the principal to send them to
you in the language you understand.