Parents are less likely to encourage their children to reach out for help in class if their own school experiences were frustrating, according to a forthcoming article in the October American Sociological Review.
University of Pennsylvania sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco observed and interviewed students and parents from working-class and middle-class families and their teachers from 3rd through 5th grades. They found that students’ behavior in the classroom was often the result of parents’ direct instructions at home.
“Working-class parents stressed ‘no excuses’ problem-solving, encouraging children to respect teachers’ authority by not seeking help,” Ms. Calarco writes. “Middle-class parents instead taught ‘by any means’ problem-solving, urging children to negotiate with teachers for assistance.”
Ms. Calarco said teachers generally were not aware of how parents were coaching students’ help-seeking behavior at home. She said schools could do more to bring both working- and middle-class parents into the conversation around help at school.
A version of this article appeared in the September 10, 2014 edition of Education Week as Student Help-Seeking