Are parents too involved in their kids’ educations?

Apr 15, 2014

A pupil holds the hand of her mother in the courtyard of Jean Mermoz school on September 4, 2012 prior enter in his classroom for an early start of the new school year in Marseille, southern France. ; Credit: ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images

The conventional wisdom holds that children who have very involved parents do better in school. But one new study is challenging that assumption by saying that too much parental involvement might actually be harming their child’s grades and test scores.

Common parental behavior including observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework don’t help a student’s performance in school.

Parental engagement is often touted in public policy as a way to help boost test scores and close the racial achievement gap. It’s the focal point of both federal ‘No Child Left Behind’ and ‘Race to the Top’ programs but academic studies have been very inconclusive about whether it actually works.

So how can parents set their kids up for educational success? Is the modern ‘helicopter’ parent actually harming their child’s educational experience? How do teachers feel about the level of parental involvement in their classes?


Keith Robinson, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin and lead author of The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement with Children’s Education

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