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How parents "set the stage" for success

It may not be a surprise that researchers at Duke University and the University of Texas believe that parents have a role to play in the academic success of their children. But exactly what is that role? What distinguishes the parenting in one family, where the children willingly and independently apply themselves, from the parenting in another, where the children seem to need constant attention and micro-managing to get them to complete their assignments? 

The answer, according to Angel L. Harris and Keith Robinson, may lie in the way we think about the role of parents. The analogy they make is to the stage-hands in a theater production, whose job it is to provide the actors in a performance with all the props and settings they need to successfully inhabit their role. The children are the actors in this analogy, and the parents "set the stage" for their success by the following actions:

1- Providing a safe home and neighborhood: Children shouldn't have to worry about getting to and from School safely.

2-Making strenuous efforts to get their children into good schools: this sets the stage for the children's exposure to good teaching and challenging academic environments.

3-Supporting their children's involvement in non-school activities as well as academics: children should have more to look forward to in the day than schoolwork only.

4-Supporting children in such away that the support comes across as caring about the children's success, not micro-managing for result such as a high grade in a class: children should feel that their parents care about them and not their grades.

5-Conveying the critical importance of education to future success in life. This can be done indirectly, by having many books in the home. 

6-Showing confidence in the children's intelligence and ability to do well in school, fostering a positive academic self-image and the desire on the part of children to not let the family down.



Jams McDowell