Dorothy Rich

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Too Much Parent Involvement? Can It Be?
When a parent is involved as a coach to children, it’s an appropriate role. When the coach runs onto the field to be a player, that’s when the parent involvement lines are being breached.
by Dorothy Rich
Regular contributor to the Gazette
April 1, 2009

The other day at rush hour, the normally very busy streets near my house in northwest Washington were barricaded to traffic for almost an hour.” No one knew what was happening. There was no crash, just lines of backed up traffic.

Finally I found a police officer to ask what was happening. “Oh,” he said, “This is for the Obamas going to their parent-teacher conference. Get used to it,” he added.

As a staunch advocate of parent-teacher conferences,” I urge the Obamas and their school to keep doing conferences, just please not at rush hour.

For someone who champions parent involvement in education, it’s hard to say this, but the truth is: yes, there can be too much parent involvement well beyond the rush hour.

When parents become so wound up and wrought up about their child’s admission to college that they write and then type their children’s essays for college, that is too much.

When parents stay up all night completing science fair projects (while children sleep), that is too much.

When parents become so protective of children that any rejection they suffer (including a low grade) feels like a personal rejection that is too much.

Today, so much more depends on school and success in school than it used to. We are a grade-driven, credentialed, SAT society. It follows that we are more anxious about our children doing well in school.

How can we keep a sense of balance about the line between too little involvement and too much? How do we know what is just right? It’s not easy.

Goldilocks knew when the chair she sat in and the bed she lay down in were just right. She just knew because that is how it is in fairy tales. In real life, it’s a lot more complicated. In this age of terrorism, as well as concern about the possibility of low grades, the danger of over-involvement of parents is that it can result in over protection of children. This can be a deterrent, not a help, for growing up.

The extreme stories abound as in the case of the mother who killed so that her daughter could be on the school cheerleading team. And there’s the father so caught up in the little league game, he attacks the coach for not doing right by his kid. There are parents who “attack” teachers in the name of different curricula for their children.

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About Dorothy Rich...

Dr. Dorothy Rich is founder and president of the nonprofit Home and School Institute, MegaSkills Education Center in Washington. She is the author of MegaSkills and developer of the MegaSkills Teacher Training Programs. For additional information:”

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