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The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

The student news site of Trinity Preparatory School

The Trinity Voice

Parental Advisory Not Needed

Parents blur the line between involvement and control in education
Caden Liu

It is a situation we all know and fear: grades are released to that test you know you did not do so well on. Moments after the Canvas notification pops up on your phone, you receive that dreaded notification from your parent: what happened with your grade?

In a study published in 2015 by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that high parental expectations led to increased academic achievement in children, but when parental aspirations became unrealistic, the child’s achievements decreased.

“Although parental aspiration can help improve children’s academic performance, excessive parental aspiration can be poisonous,” lead author Kou Murayama said.

There is a difference between wanting your child to succeed and forcing them to. It is important to be conscious of overparenting, which is the idea that parents have a large amount of control and involvement in their child’s life. It is this overparenting that causes children to feel increased amounts of pressure.

This pressure leads to increased anxiety levels, which can decrease academic performance.

A 2002 study conducted by the University of Michigan found that 80% of college students equate their self-worth to academic validation, creating an unhealthy relationship with education and an increased fear of failure.

“That’s one downside for when there’s too much pressure on the grade,” Spanish teacher Malika Omawale said. “There’s less focus on the actual learning.”

When a parent is constantly checking Canvas, or nitpicking every 10-point assignment, it becomes a problem because it prevents students from taking ownership of their work.

“Sometimes it’s hard to let your kid fail, sometimes you want to do whatever you can do to help them,” Trinity parent and Board of Trustees member Bridget Hawley said. “But that’s not always the best way.”

One problematic behavior is the heavy focus on grades, sometimes referred to as “grade grubbing,” instead of a child’s progress. Grade grubbing is when a student or parent goes to the teacher to ask for a better grade with no genuine reason. This communicates to the student that their parents care less about their progress and more about their final grades. It is important for parents to take into consideration the time and effort that academic improvement requires.

“I think people don’t understand that there’s a way that things get worked through, it’s not a switch you just flip and now it’s all fixed,” Omawale said. “There’s work involved.”

Another issue that has become all too normalized is when parents decide to contact teachers before encouraging their children to take action. Canvas makes it easy for parents to regularly check grades and monitor their student’s progress, and this accessibility gives parents more leeway to reach out to teachers.

There are certain points when a parent should get involved, but a parent should not be in constant communication with a teacher about their child’s progress; it is not only frustrating for the student, but their teacher as well. If parents are constantly speaking for their children, it sends the message to the students that they are not capable of doing it on their own.

​​“[Students] need to learn to advocate for themselves and be responsible for themselves,” Omawale said. “The ultimate goal is for them to be independent learners. We’re a team, and part of that team is the parent, teacher and child.”

This hand-holding hinders students’ ability to function effectively in college. Learning proper study skills and independence is a huge benefit of a prep school education, and letting students learn to navigate this is important. If they are not able to develop

these habits,

it can hurt their ability to thrive in college and beyond.

“You have to look at your kid and ask where do they need my support and help, and where would it be good for them to struggle a little on their own?” Hawley said.

Parents have also had an increased involvement in their child’s course selection, choosing only the best and most rigorous classes for their children.

If a student does not want to take APs or honors classes, they shouldn’t have to.

Parents have to be ready to accept the limitations the child sets for themselves and encourage them to try their best in classes that fit them. It is a question of what the student can thrive in, not how many APs they take.

If parents try to control what classes their children take, they are not letting their children’s education be their own.

Despite these issues, parent involvement is not necessarily a bad thing when practiced in moderation.

Freshman Presley Sherman considers her parents to be more involved than most, but Sherman feels like her mother’s involvement motivates her to work harder.

“I feel like for some kids if their parents aren’t as involved they don’t try as hard,” Sherman said. “I feel like since she pushes me I’m like, ‘Okay, I’ll try to do better.’”

A parent’s active interest in students’ education can help them thrive and give them motivation to work harder. The issue arises when parents cross the line of what is appropriate for involvement, and directly insert themselves into their child’s education.

This involvement is not only found in parent-child relationships, but has expanded from personal involvement to a push for state laws, as parents try to use legislation to alter the curriulum in schools.

This is especially prevalent in Florida, with legislation like the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” restrictions on the AP Psychology curriculum, and the banning of over 700 books in Orange County alone. Parental involvement in education is increasing.

These attempts to change the curriculum have negative implications for students.

Prohibiting what they learn and what resources are available to them only hurts them, and stops the flow of ideas and growth.

Parents should refrain from controlling all aspects of their child’s education. They must find the balance between control and encouragement.

Finding that balance requires open communication between the parent and child.

Both parties need to understand expectations and boundaries. This requires trust. Parents need to trust that their children are capable of doing things on their own and trust the school to provide them with the skills to do that. Part of this requires that parents let go and accept that it is up to their children to decide who they want to be.

“If you can find your sweet spot in the middle and find the balance, that’s where you’re the most successful,” Hawley said.

When parents incorporate these practices into their lives, it helps their children’s independence and self-regulation and helps them grow into strong, ambitious adults.

“We’re teaching our students to be leaders,” Hawley said.

The ultimate goal is to help your students succeed. Parents need to understand that there is a fine line between being involved in their child’s education and controlling it.

“I think that’s where you can cross the line sometimes,” Hawley said. “There is a balance, you need to find [it] because not every kid is the same.”

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About the Contributors
Peyton Alch
Peyton Alch, Managing and Layout Editor
Peyton Alch is a junior entering her third year on staff as a layout and managing editor. Outside of newspaper, she enjoys browsing CDs, hanging out with friends and binging her favorite TV show "Love Island." Contact her at [email protected].
Caden Liu
Caden Liu, Graphics Editor
Caden Liu is a junior entering his second year on staff as graphics editor. When not busy with schoolwork, Caden enjoys playing tennis, listening to music, and watching TV shows like “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother.” He also enjoys spending time with friends, family, and his dog. Contact him at [email protected].

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