How can schools help parents decode the mysteries of the teenage mind?
Educational researchers Robbins and Searby (2013) found four common themes which helped schools in terms of parent involvement in the schools’ interdisciplinary teams. The teams “believe that parental involvement is essential to student success.” They “are open and approachable to parents, serve as a resource to the parents of adolescents,” and “approach problem-solving opportunities with parents as a team instead of individuals” (p.122).
Successful schools meet parents where they are, just like how we meet a student where they are, and take the parents’ learning and involvement from there. Schools can act as a resource of information for adolescent development for parents. I have worked in a private school environment where we provided parents with lots of resources, including monthly lectures, a conference hosted by the school featuring famous doctors who wrote bestsellers. (This school was so fancy it was like teaching at a spa ;)).
However, my daughter’s schools (private Christian school and public high school) have never offered such events or information, even on a modest scale. I think most parents still are not aware of the newer research on adolescent brain development. Additionally, parenting teens can be very stressful, more difficult than parenting elementary school-aged children. I can say as a teacher and a mother that dealing with the mysteries of the adolescent brain as a parent is much different and harder than working with teens as a teacher.
On that note, what kinds of parent education activities do your school offer, aside from parents attending sporting events? What kinds of events or information for parents on their kiddo’s development do you think school administrators should offer? Finally, if you’re a parent, has your child’s school ever provided any information or resources for you?
P.S. Here’s an intriguing, short snippet on NPR about a high school teacher’s challenges with parenting her own teenage son. She had thought it would be a snap since she’d worked with so many teens!