Parental engagement in young people’s learning and education remains important and influential during the high school years and is related to young people’s academic success and their well-being at high school.
“I personally just think the most important thing parents can do is just actively be engaged at home. Knowing what your kid’s learning about. To be able to help with their assignments or just be asking about how their day was, school sport, extracurricular activities - just being involved at the home level. I don’t necessarily think there’s a lot of requirement for in-school stuff, but that’s based on my own parenting values.”
(ACT High School parent)
Here are some tips and ideas about the things you can do to help your child’s learning.
Tip 1: Being Sensitive to Increasing Autonomy and Independence of Adolescents, but Retaining a Supportive Structure
- Have a supportive parenting style which is warm, responsive, and firm but democratic (as opposed to one characterised by one-sided parent control and decision-making)
- Enable and encourage your child to engage in autonomous and/or joint decision-making
- Support your child in developing their own schedules, routines and processes for managing school/homework and other aspects of their lives
- Allow your child to take an active role in solving their own problems
- Sustain ‘moderate’ levels of parental support and supervision and maintain adequate level of discipline (e.g. some ‘house rules’ in relation to screen time, chores).
Tip 2: Demonstrate Aspirations and Expectations for Learning
- Communicate the value of education for your child’s future
- Express high (but realistic) educational goals for your child
- Have aspirations for and display encouragement for your child to complete school and go onto further education
- Be actively involved in discussions about post-school education options, courses, and careers
- Talk positively with your child about the things they are good at, provide authentic praise, and encourage them to take the opportunity to learn from any errors and apply these to future learning.
Tip 3: Aim to Provide a Stimulating and Supportive Home Learning Environment
- Have books and other learning resources available in the home
- Model behaviours that promote learning and demonstrate education is valued (e.g. parents reading in the home, conversations between parent and child about learning)
- Engage your child in out-of-school learning experiences, such as cultural activities, community gardening, attending sporting events, trips to museums, libraries, community events, music, dance
- Provide a supportive environment for child health and wellbeing more generally. For adolescents, these things are particularly important: managing fatigue and ensuring adequate sleep (between 9-10 hours); supporting stress and emotional anxiety; providing adequate nutrition to support brain and body development; and help with time and resource management
Tip 4: Maintain Child Parent Interaction Relevant to Learning
- Have frequent discussions about school, learning and educational matters
- Engage in conversations and choices around future course selection, further education and careers
- Discuss big ideas around politics, society, science and culture and link these to school work where possible
- Talk about books, movies, documentaries, television, online media etc (e.g. what your child is reading or watching)
- Use communication strategies that maintain engagement with adolescents: ask open ended questions and seek opinions; give encouragement, don’t ask a question and rush in with the answer; develop influence through questioning rather than giving an opinion; limit use of sarcasm and irony.
Tip 5: Keep Connections and Communication Open with School
- Maintain links with your child’s high school and discussions with teachers where opportunities are presented (e.g. through attendance at parent-teacher evenings, school events, school drop-off and pick-up)
- Be an active partner (with child and school) in discussions, planning and processes for future course selection, further education, and career options
- Introduce yourself to your child’s teacher(s) at start of each school year; establish best ways to communicate and keep in touch, and make it known you are available to discuss progress.
Tip 6: Provide Support for Homework Which is Appropriate to Adolescence
- Support your child to develop their own structures and schedules for doing their homework
- Ensure your child has a quiet and organised space for doing their homework - your local library might be a good spot if there isn’t room at home
- Try to avoid from direct involvement in homework when your child does not need help (particularly as they age and become more independent)
- Show interest in what your child is learning and doing at school and what homework they may have (e.g. through chats over the dinner table).
More Information and Ideas can be Found in the Resources Below:
- Parental engagement in high school fact sheet (252 KB)
- Mental health matters https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/mental-health-matters
- Teens communicating and relationships http://raisingchildren.net.au/communicating_relationships/teens_communicating.html
- Teens health and wellbeing http://raisingchildren.net.au/health_wellbeing/teens_health.html