In many wealthy suburban schools the term “helicopter parent” elicits headaches in teachers and principals. It refers to parents who are so involved with their kids’ education that they seem to be always hovering above them.
Yes, this is probably overkill and I’m not suggesting that you adopt this practice. But I will suggest that we look into some of these parents’ best practices so you may incorporate them as great ways to support your kids’ education.
- Higher grades
- Better test scores
- Better attendance
- Higher rates of college attendance and completion
- Better behavior and self esteem
- Less incidence of drug and alcohol abuse
Unfortunately, some of the research indicates that Hispanic children are more likely to attend schools where parental support is considered a problem. This could be due to language barriers or to not fully comprehending how the system works in some cases, while in others, it could be partly due to the fact that many Hispanic parents trust that schools will give their children the necessary tools to succeed. However, as many of us know, this isn’t always the case. Whether due to overcrowding or lack of funding, the schools can’t be relied upon to be the only party responsible for educating and supporting students’ development.
BEST PRACTICES OF THE SO-CALLED ‘HELICOPTER PARENTS’
Set High Expectations:Children (and adults alike) tend to rise to meet and exceed expectations. If they don’t know what you expect, they have nothing to work toward. If you set your expectations too low, they are unlikely to fully realize their potential. Let your children know the value of good grades, but most importantly of putting an effort into everything they do. Tell them you know they are capable and that you expect nothing but the best from them. Help them establish goals for themselves.
Establish Rules and Routines that Reinforce: Don’t allow television until all homework is complete; make sure your child is in bed by the same time every night to ensure a good night’s sleep; read with your child beginning at a young age and encourage good study habits. With preteens and teens, keep all electronics outside their room overnight so they don’t miss out on their sleep by staying up chatting or texting with friends. Routines like these show your child that learning is a high priority in your household.
Take a Proactive Approach with the Teacher: Introduce yourself to the teachers on the first day. Let them know you have high expectations for your child and would appreciate a quick communication should problems arise. Exchange best ways to contact each other. Communication between schools and parents has improved greatly thanks to technology. Take advantage of it. Visit your school’s parent portal daily to keep abreast of your child’s progress, any teacher notes and problems that your child may not be sharing with you. This is the way in which many moms often find out about a failed test or a homework project that wasn’t turned in.
Volunteer In the School: Teachers are always looking for help. Before the year even starts, many circulate volunteer rosters at orientations and via email. Sign up to help in any way you can. From bringing treats on holidays to chaperoning field trip.
Talk to Other Involved Parents: Many helicopter parents create study groups to help their kids and their friends prepare for certain exams. By pulling their personal resources together, professional parents teach subjects in which they are experts. In my local school district, for example, such a group was formed to prepare kids for the SATs. A biologist teaches science, a history professor teaches social studies, and a CPA teaches advanced math. Creating or joining a group such as this for your middle school and high school children, would benefit not just your child, but many students.
Discuss School With Your Child: Talk to your kids about school. What are they learning? How do they like their teacher? Where do they sit in class and is this causing any distractions? Do they need more time to take tests? If there are any indications of problems, call or email their teacher or their school counselor about having a conference. This is within your rights and as long as you keep the communication cordial, your child should get the help they need.
What helicopter parents understand is that they are the best advocates for their kids and that the school must find the best way to accommodate their students’ learning styles and special needs. Just like these parents, you must find the best way to be involved in your children’s school even when that may sometimes mean getting involved in issues that you feel should be the school’s responsibility.