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Positive Parenting: How Too Much Involvement Can Hurt Child Success

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Parents have always been told parental involvement is the key to their child’s academic success.

But is there a point when being involved is more of a hindrance than a help?

A study from Duke University and the University of Texas at Austin details the best ways to help your child thrive in school.

Helping with homework has always been considered a bonus for kids. Now, researchers find those advantages start fading in middle school.

They looked at data from the time kids were in the first grade to the twelfth, tracking 63 measures of parental involvement.

Sociologist Angel Harris says they tracked how much parents helped with homework, talked about college and met with teachers.

“Roughly 15 percent of the time parental involvement was associated with increases in achievement,” Harris says. “About 30 percent of the time, 35 percent of the time, it was associated with decreases in achievement.”

Fifty percent of the time, parental involvement made no difference.

The researchers also found, across all racial groups, helping with homework was found to lower achievement in reading and math.

So what does help?

“Having expectations of your child to have education beyond high school seems to be associated with achievement across the board,” Harris says.

Professor Harris and his colleagues also found that reading out loud to young children made a difference, as did talking to older students about their college plans.

Also, talking about the importance of school is associated with increases in math and reading.

“They just kind of encourage us to get better and that we will get there,” Harris says.

The study also found that parents can improve kids’ academic performance by as much as eight points on a reading or math test by placing them in a classroom of a teacher with a good reputation.

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