If you’re involved in education, whether as a student or a teacher or a parent or an administrator, it can often seem that there are constant battles over assigning blame for poor performance. From the perspective of teachers, parental involvement can often feel like an attack. While having parents involved in their children’s education is not a bad thing, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
The parents who are constantly setting up meetings over every poor grade or who are sidestepping the teacher entirely to talk to an administrator (afraid perhaps that their child is not being given enough positive attention in a classroom setting) have earned themselves the term “helicopter parents”–parents who just can’t stop hovering and let their children learn responsibility and independence.
And to be honest, learning consequences and personal responsibility and taking steps into the world away from home is what school is really about. The material, while important, is often secondary to the life lessons that are taught every day in peer interaction and in the classroom. What do these helicopter parents teach their children, then? That they shouldn’t have to advocate for themselves? That when faced with an issue, instead of doing some self-reflection and trying to improve, you should confront the other party head-on?
There are absolutely times when parental involvement becomes necessary in a classroom setting. Sometimes there are real conflicts of personality between teachers and students, and if the student has already taken steps to attempt and rectify the situation, he or she may need an adult advocate to intervene. Asking your child’s teacher to meet and find out how your child’s performance can be improved is also a positive step.
So the point isn’t that you should never get involved in your child’s education, or that you should never meet with your child’s teacher, but that you need to change your expectations when you have those meetings. Don’t go in ready to fight, or ready to assign blame. Often, parents have only heard one side of the story. So your child is getting As in every course except for Biology, and he tells you that it’s because the teacher hates him. The Biology teacher might reveal to you that the issue is your child hasn’t been doing the online weekly quizzes. Easy fix. Your child starts doing the online quizzes, his grade improves.
What have your experiences been meeting with your children’s teachers? Are you a helicopter parent? Is the term as negative as I’ve interpreted it?