New Study Says Parents Shouldn't Help Their Kids With Schoolwork - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

New Study Says Parents Shouldn't Help Their Kids With Schoolwork

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While I remember a lot about my childhood, I don't actually recall how much my mother helped me with my homework. I know for a fact that she rarely visited any of my schools--only a few times that I can clearly recall. She was never a member of the PTA organizations at any of my schools. That is not to say that she wasn't a good mom or that she didn't care about my education. She always encouraged me to get the best grades I could. And when I did, it was clear she was very proud of me. My mother worked long hours on a graveyard shift for the U.S. Postal Service for much of my preteen and teenage years so much more compelling survival considerations prevented her from being involved in my school life even if she had wanted to.

But now, a huge new study suggests that it wouldn't have mattered much one way or the other. That my academic success had little whatsoever to do with how much or how little my mother took part in activities relating to my education. And furthermore, had she participated more than she did, it could have done a lot more harm than good.

This has to come as a huge shock to many of you. It did to me. Especially to government officials who have for decades spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a plethora of programs to increase parents' participation in the education of their children; especially those with low incomes.

I won't get too specific about the study. If you want to know more about it you can always look it up online. Basically, it was the largest-ever study of how parental involvement affects academic achievement. It was done by Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin and Angel L. Harris, a sociology professor at Duke.  It was conducted over a period of nearly three decades and tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in kids' academic lives from helping with homework to talking with them about their education to volunteering at their schools. The study concludes that none of this stuff pays any measurable dividends and can sometimes have the opposite effect.

The study implies a child's environment and the quality of the schools and teachers probably have a much greater impact. If a child grows up surrounded by successful people and attends top notch schools with great teachers, he or she is much more likely to understand the importance of education and be motivated to succeed in class. A notable exception to the study were Asian parents who, even when poor, were somehow able to communicate the value and appeal of education and inspire their kids to do well in school.

But it is precisely this exception that, as far as I'm concerned, casts a shadow of doubt over some of the study's conclusions. If a parent isn't involved, does it mean a child won't succeed in school? Of course not. Just as parental involvement won't guarantee a child's academic success. Still, I can't help but believe if a parent cares about a child's performance in school and communicates that in a loving, motivating way, that it can make a significant difference. Even if circumstances severely limit just how much a parent can actively participate in that child's educational activities.

Tony McEwing co-anchors FOX 11 Morning News at 4:30 am and provides news updates for the Emmy award winning Good Day LA, broadcast weekdays from 7:00 - 10:00 am. He also co-anchors the FOX 11 10 am News and the FOX 11 News at Noon.
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