Setting the Stage

Allan Hardy, Principal
This past summer was the first time in three years that we were not managing a construction project, so things have been pretty quiet around the school for the past few months. It was good to have students back with us yesterday, excited to see their friends and teachers. I know they are looking forward to their various outdoor education trips, which begin later this week.
 
Having your children return to school likely has parents thinking about the upcoming school year. Increasingly, I find parents are working hard to determine how to stay involved and support their children as they move through Grades 7 to 12, while at the same time, giving them the freedom needed to develop a strong sense of independence. I came across this article recently, which offers some interesting insight on this topic.
 
According to Angel L. Harris and Keith Robinson, researchers at Duke University, “there is no clear positive connection between parent involvement and academic achievement.” Based on their research, the authors contend that rather than trying to micro-manage their child’s school life, the most effective parents “set the stage” for their children by creating the conditions necessary for their children to be successful at school and in life. According to the student participants in the study, effective stage-setting by parents focuses on setting high academic expectations and creating a comfortable space in which students can develop their own academic motivation.
 
The authors identify four key elements of “setting the stage.” By making it possible for your child to attend Greenwood, you have already completed the first element, as helping your child make good school choices in the K-12 years is a critical part of setting the stage. Secondly, parents need to support their child’s schooling and extracurricular activities. This point is critical as it shows parents care not only about academic success, but also success in life.
 
The final two elements relate to parent messaging. Parents need to emphasize the importance of school, so that their children see academic success as an important part of achieving their life goals. Things such as having students attend school regularly and being on time for school matter in this regard. Finally, parents need to help their children see themselves as intelligent and capable, as this helps children form a positive academic identity.
 
These findings about the importance of “stage setting” challenge the conventional belief that parents need to be actively involved in their child’s day-to-day school life. While I really appreciate parents taking time to attend games, plays and other school events, as it provides our students with an enthusiastic audience, the authors of the study note that “a busy parent with a demanding career can be a successful stage-setter with minimal direct involvement in his or her child’s schooling.”
 
The conclusions of this study also reinforce the belief that by supporting your child’s development of independence, you help them build confidence and character.
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Greenwood College School

443 Mount Pleasant Road
Toronto, ON M4S 2L8
Tel: 416 482 9811