When parents don’t value education

Research suggests that a consistent predictor of academic achievement is parental expectation. And while most parents do expect their kids to graduate from high school and complete some postsecondary education, this is not true for everyone.

What to do

Try to understand why their parents don't value education. This could be the key to overcoming obstacles. Find their passion, then connect them with opportunities (clubs, activities, hobbies) that help ignite that passion. Show them the path to realizing their dreams. A vocational program? An internship? A degree? The clearer the path, the easier it is to make it a reality. Encourage and support their educational goals, while being careful not to overlook the very real barriers to those goals.

Things to consider

Parental expectations directly affect the amount of parentchild communication about school. Parental expectations affect a child’s own aspirations and expectations. Families with high educational aspirations for their children tend to provide more out-of-school learning opportunities for them. Students who reported that their parents expected them to attend college had better attendance and more positive attitudes toward school.

Where to get help

Identify and help them connect with supportive resources at school or in the community. Most school districts have career planning programs created to help kids navigate the road ahead.

The Bigger Picture

There are a number of websites designed to answer questionnaires about career interests and to identify possible careers. A good one is Quintessential Careers, sponsored by American University. Take advantage of online resources that help to bridge the divide between aspirations and the path to achieving them, like the Minnesota Mentoring Partnership’s K-12 Journey Map.

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Measures of Flourishing

Among the characteristics associated with optimal development are positive relationships, curiosity, interest and persistence in learning, and resilience. Children and youth who are female, white, or more affluent more frequently demonstrate these qualities, according to their parents. See more at: http://www.childtrends.org/?indicators=measures-offlourishing#sthash.LLqBIljT.dpuf