The role of parents in children’s education is frequently emphasized.
However, in secondary school, parents tend to gradually withdraw from monitoring their child’s schooling. This trend is especially marked in mathematics and sciences, subjects in which parents often feel ill-equipped given the technical aspects that become increasingly complex in secondary school. Yet quality parental support is likely to have a direct impact on students’ motivation, perseverance and success in school. Paradoxically, an over-invested parent could generate parental pressure and thus create performance anxiety in his or her child, particularly in mathematics and science subjects, thereby contributing to undermining the child’s motivation and success.
In order to reconcile these two a priori contradictory observations, this project examined the influence of perceived parental support on academic motivation, success and perseverance and on performance anxiety at the end of secondary school. The results revealed that perceived autonomy support practices on the part of the parent have the greatest positive influence on motivation and, indirectly, on students’ educational aspirations and achievement.
On the basis of these results, it is recommended that schools give greater recognition to parents as key players in the lives of students, including those in their final years of secondary school, and that they explicitly solicit parents’ contribution to their child’s academic follow-up. In addition, it seems essential that educational settings offer concrete strategies for parents to support their child’s autonomy, while avoiding parental control practices.
It would also be particularly helpful to provide parents with resources to learn more about the teaching materials and strategies used in order to increase their capacity to monitor their child’s progress in school, especially at the end of secondary school.
Isabelle Plante, Université du Québec à Montréal
Original title: Persévérance et réussite scolaires en mathématiques et en sciences: rôle et besoins des parents pour offrir un soutien optimal