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Hill: Parents Need to Link Schoolwork to Future Goals

By News editor
05/22/2009 2:50 PM
11 Comments

New findings by Harvard Graduate School of Education Visiting Professor Nancy Hill, reported in the May issue of , suggest linking schoolwork to future goals may be more effective for children than increased .

“Middle school is the time when grades and interest in school decline. Entering puberty, hanging out with friends, wanting distance from parents and longing to make one’s own decisions win over listening to parents and studying,” Hill says. “Instilling the value of education and linking schoolwork to future goals is what this age group needs to excel in school, more than parents’ helping with or showing up at school.”

As lead researcher on the study, Hill examined 50 studies with more than 50,000 students over a 26-year period looking at what kinds of parent involvement helped children’s .

While adolescence is a time when analytic thinking, problem-solving, planning and decision-making skills start to increase, teens also begin to internalize goals, beliefs and motivations, and use these to make decisions. However, adolescents still need parental guidance to help provide the link between school and their aspirations for future work, Hill says. Although the study showed that parents’ involvement in school events still had a positive effect on adolescents’ achievement, it did not rank as highly as parents conveying the importance of academic performance, relating educational goals to occupational aspirations, and discussing learning strategies.

Additionally, helping with homework had mixed results. The study discovered that some students felt parents interfered with their independence or put too much pressure on them or that parents’ help was confusing because they didn’t use the same strategies as their teachers. Another possible explanation for the negative return on homework “was that those students who needed help with their homework were already doing poorly in school and this showed up as being associated with lower levels of achievement,” Hill says.

Ultimately, this kind of involvement can prevent long-term problems and future academic challenges. “Lack of guidance is the chief reason that academically able students do not go to college,” Hill says. “Communicating the value of education and offering curriculum advice about what to focus on helps these students plan their long-term goals.”

Hill’s focuses on variations in and family socialization practices across ethnic, socioeconomic status, and neighborhood contexts as well as demographic variations in the relations between family dynamics and children’s school performance and other developmental outcomes. She is the cofounder of the Study Group on Race, Culture, and Ethnicity, an interdisciplinary group of scientists who develop theory and methodology for defining and understanding the cultural context within diverse families. She will assume her role as Professor of Education at the Ed School on July 1.

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  • Umesh Sharma

    thats so useful. As HGSE grad and helping middle school students get into magnet schools – I find it very useful.

  • Chris Thompson

    This makes a ton of sense. I’ve studied NLP for the last 15 years, so this is my perspective: Kids are going to know what they want (fun, etc) and they are not going to listen to things that don’t line up with their desires. Parental pressure is like a rapport killer. So the question is … how do you link the work to the future goals? That is the major missing link. Telling someone that they need an engine in a car to make it go somewhere is nice. Showing them how to install the engine is even better.
    Parents should consider learning NLP to help create the necessary change in their child’s mind.
    I don’t specialize in the adolescent age, but I focus on teaching parents how to deal with toddlers.

  • Andrea Thies

    Indeed it makes a lot of sense that authentic experiences with expectations that are appropriate for children but also have meaning and accountability in real-world terms provide the greatest impact on learning. However, the burden of doing this should not fall exclusively on schools, which implies more than school reform- it is a reform in community values and responsibilities. Community buy-in is require so that the experience is more than just an exercise. The challenge is to give children a sense that they are valued members of their community and their ideas really do matter. Whether child or adult, everyone is more invested in a process if what they say and do will be heard and valued by others.

  • Miesha Clipper-Willis

    As a former middle school counselor in California, this can be extremely helpful in training incoming counselors to work with middle school families and students. This study sheds light on techniques and tools counselors can implement in developing both educational plans for students and when working with families as they support students in the home

  • Acai

    However, The adolescents still need parental guidance to help provide the link between school and their aspirations for future work.
    Acai

  • Corey Gaber

    Acai,
    While that parental guidance in linking school to future goals can be helpful it is not necessary and sometimes practically impossible. I work in a Baltimore City Public School and often parents are non-existent and sometimes the kids would be better off if their parents didn’t give them any advice.
    It all starts with relationship building, two people can say identical things to a student but one will be ignored and the other genuinely listened to. If a parent has a poor relationship with their child the child will either disregard what they say or actively work for the opposite. Working in a school it’s all about knowing the individual student and their family, and which buttons to push when.

  • Zandra

    The challenge is to give children a sense that they are valued members of their community and their ideas really do matter. Whether child or adult, everyone is more invested in a process if what they say and do will be heard and valued by others.
    Resveratrol

  • Stacy

    Well, The study discovered that some students felt parents interfered with their independence or put too much pressure on them or that parents’ help was confusing because they didn’t use the same strategies as their teachers.

  • Wendy

    The real challenge (speaking as a parent of a middle-schooler) is getting the adolescent to internalize the values of a good education and academic performance. My son just doesn’t see the link between doing well in school and doing what he wants (which is to play all day). He is a bright kid who lacks both intellectual curiosity and professional aspirations. It seems like we intervene way too much in his school work–helping with homework, goal-setting, dialogues with teachers, etc. Without that support, we’re concerned that he would really do nothing and fail. It’s unburdening to be told to do less for him, but the consequences seem too great.

  • Yeast Infection

    Well this is a nice post.Its relevant and focuses on parenting and how parents should deal with issues related to their children.

  • Regina Dating

    An interesting article could persuade visitors to come and come to your site. I’m very eager to read more of your posts when I get back.
    Best regards,

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