How much Parental Involvement is 'Just Right'?

       Parents are an important part of the educational process.  But some parental involvement is too little and some is too much.  What is the "sweet spot" of parental involvement; What would you consider to be (as Goldilocks would say) "just right" when it comes to parental involvement?

       No one would dispute the value of a strong connection between the home and the school when it comes to better outcomes for education.  We (educators) want parents to be involved.  We want parents to celebrate with us the academic successes of their children, and we want parents to support and to assist us when struggles and obstacles occur along the way.  As teachers, what do you consider to the right amount of parental support?  Is it possible to have too much involvement from the home? What do you consider to be too little support?  As a parent, how do you approach your involvement in your child's education?  Do you leave it all to the schools and the teachers?  Do you check on homework and that's it?  Are you comfortable talking to your child's teacher?

       How much parental involvement falls into the "Just Right" category?  This question may have a different answer for elementary teachers than for high school teachers.  Parents with more education may feel different than parents with less education.  Parents of younger children may answer this question differently than parents of older children.

       As a high school teacher, whenever we had parent-teacher conferences, the parents of students with high grades often came and the parents of students with low grades usually didn't come.  I also saw many parents who (themselves) had a college education and few parents who never went to college.  As a school we would often discuss the issue of finding ways to involve parents and finding ways to invite parents to different school events.  Whenever I reached out to a parent (due to both positive and negative events that occurred with their child in my classroom), I always found a parent who was willing to help and who was appreciative of the contact.

       On the other hand, I've also experienced parents who wanted weekly updates (phone calls or emails); parents who would constantly contact me and other teachers about the smallest issues that occurred in the school relative to their child.  Sometimes these folks were very anti-public-school and they were anxious to share their alternate opinion about what was happening and what (instead) should be the job of the schools.  But most of the time these parents were supportive of the school and certainly supportive of their child--but I worried that the child (in high school) was not given the opportunity to make even the smallest decision on his own about his education.  Still, I felt that more parental involvement was better than no parental involvement and it wasn't my place as a teacher to tell a parent how to help their child.


       What does your school do to encourage more parental involvement?  What can a school do to encourage overly involved parents to allow their children to take more ownership of their education? How much parental involvement is 'just right'?  Is too much involvement a nice problem to have?  

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