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I'm the Parent of a High School Student: How Involved Should I Be in Their Education?

written by: Anne Vize • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 8/2/2012

Encouraging a parent's role in their child's education at the high school level is one of those things that sounds easy and has obvious benefits. But how do you make it work on a practical level? This article explores some tips for good communication skills that work well with teens!

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    Setting Goals and Communicating Well

    One of the tips for helping an adolescent stay focused and engaged with their education is to help them set some goals. This is an area where you as the parent have some important roles in education, and your communication skills need to be red hot! But how do parents make sure they communicate well enough to help their children set goals? Here are some tips to good communication skills that will work well with your teen.

    Remember to encourage goals to be about more than just school. Goals need to cover all aspects of life. By knowing some of the clear goals that your adolescent has set for himself, you are better able to understand his priorities as well as see how you can help your child achieve them.

    An adolescent without any goals in life is at risk of drifting rudderless through his educational pathway. This does not mean that every adolescent has to have clear and precise goals, but it does mean that goals can help your adolescent identify what is important for them and what is not. Talk often about goals at a time when your teen is feeling relaxed and when you know you can start and finish a conversation without interruption.

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    Communicating With Adolescents

    Communicating with adolescents is one way to ensure parent involvement in education at the high school level. Through good communication, parents can ensure they remain informed and aware of what is going on in the life of their young person.

    Communication at this life stage takes on a fairly different slant, however. There are often increasing issues about peer groups and being part of the accepted group at school and a decreased focus on family activities that all need to be dealt with. There are also lots of new causes of stress to be managed, such as peer pressure, bullying and relationships.

    Effective communication means taking opportunities when they arise, as well as proactively creating opportunities through tasks or family activities. Doing so will help make that open communication easier to achieve. For some adolescents, communication is easier when there is another activity on the go at the same time--for instance, driving in the car, going fishing, going for a walk or baking a cake. Don't be afraid as a parent to attend workshops or activities that cover tips to good communication skills with adolescents: Parents can use all the help they can get, and some professional advice is often helpful.

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    Involved But Not Overpowering

    There is a difference between a parent's involvement in education and being an overpowering parent. We’ve all seen them--the pushy parents who insist on taking over and organizing every aspect of their adolescent’s existence.

    The trick to being involved instead of overpowering is to know when and how to be a part of your young person’s world and when to back away and leave her to discover things for herself. It is important to consider the parent's role in education carefully, and to make sure you don't push when you should really back away.

    It is fairly inevitable that things will go wrong for a young person from time to time, and often the best help a parent can give is to let him learn life’s lessons. Be sure to let him know you are there and ready to offer advice, support and encouragement when it is needed. This will help him build his own life skills in many different areas. It also allows the adolescent to learn that his parent is there for him when he needs it, but that he is also free to make his own life choices and mistakes along the way.