Influence of Parental Involvement on Middle School Performance

Young children are inherently motivated to do well in school. When children enter high school, they have developed a sense of identity and tend to motivate themselves academically based on their own desires, goals and external influences. However, during middle school, many children lose interest in educational pursuits and are otherwise distracted or deterred by external conditions. Family problems, socialization, and peer pressures can all negatively impact a child’s motivation during this critical time. But recent research, conducted by Cecilia Sin-Sze Cheung of the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois, suggests that parental commitment during a child’s middle school experience, via motivation and involvement, can significantly increase their incentive to achieve well academically.

Another factor of exploration for Cheung was that of cultural differences across the parenting domain. Namely, she was interested in finding out if Chinese parents, who place strict emphasis on education and discipline, would positively influence their children’s motivation more than American parents. For her study, Cheung followed 825 Chinese and American adolescents through their seventh- and eighth-grade careers and found that the more involved the parents were in their children’s school experiences, the more engaged and motivated the children were. Additionally, across both cultures, the children who felt their parents were committed to their learning exhibited higher levels of achievement and self-regulated academic adherence.

Cheung believes there are many reasons for these results. First, children who see their parents demonstrating attention and involvement to them may feel the need to reciprocate by meeting their parents’ expectations. These same children may be compelled to perform well in order to maintain their parents’ attention and gain approval and support from them. Secondly, there were no significant differences in the achievement levels of Chinese or American children, which led Cheung to theorize that regardless of the type of motivation and control exhibited by parents, the effect is the same on children. In essence, children who perceive their parents as encouraging, supportive, and involved are more motivated to excel academically than those whose parents are less involved. Cheung added, “It appears that parents’ involvement shapes children’s achievement by promoting not only autonomous reasons for learning among children but also parent-oriented reasons that are of import in maintaining children’s engagement in school and achievement during the early adolescent years—a time when children often lack interest in school.”

Cheung, C. S.-S., Pomerantz, E. M. (2012, February 13). Why Does Parents’ Involvement Enhance Children’s Achievement? The Role of Parent-Oriented Motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027183

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  • Rene


    February 17th, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    You have to stick with your kids no matter where they are in school.
    The grade that they are in does not have to determine how much you do for them or with them.
    They need you all of the time, and pretty much always will.

  • BUZZ


    February 17th, 2012 at 8:34 PM

    Remember hating it when mom or dad would enquiry about academics and school. But fast forward to now being a parent and I can see why they were so concerned. Take it as a positive kids-your parents being involved is a good thing and it has scientific backing now :)

  • Cas


    February 18th, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    all of these people think that when the kids are young they need them the most but that’s not true it is the time when tweens are going into teens that they need you around

  • Shana D

    Shana D

    February 18th, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    I am a teacher and I have to say that the kids who know that their parents support them no matter what are the kids that I have always seen the most success in the classroom and outside of the classroom. These are the parents who are not necessarily cracking the whip on their kids at all times but they are letting them know in numerous ways that they are there to love and support them in everything that they try. There will always be varied levels of success depending on what the kids are most interested in, but those parents who give their kids that support that they need, and the encouragement that they need, are the ones who always turn out with the kids who are the most likely to succeed later in life.

  • Tom


    February 19th, 2012 at 12:17 AM

    No gift,luxury or anything else can replace the attention an time that a parent can give to a child.Certainly some parents think it can but they are only fooling themselves while hurting their kids.

  • day


    February 19th, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    this is the time when some are checking out but it looks more like this is the time they need to be checking in

  • JoCeLyN


    February 20th, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    Whoever think that the going gets easier the older the kids are, then they have another think coming! The baby years are the easiest- you might have some mischief and mis behavior but nothing like that that you get from adolescents and teenagers. I mean, we have all been there, remember what it was like for you when you were a teen, and multiply the mount of trouble that kids can get into today by two because ther are so many more temptations and way to get in trouble today than there were when we were kids!

  • J.H.Stevens


    February 21st, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    Most kids try and be ‘adult’ by going away from their parents and acting all independent.But I feel mentoring by parents even until high school is in fact a good thing and there is a lot to gain for both the parents and the kids from such a relationship.What do the others have to say about this?

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