How important is your child’s peer group to overall achievement in school?

With each passing school year, your child’s peer group plays an ever greater role in daily productivity, attitude toward learning, and long-term goal-setting. In the elementary years, many children are influenced primarily by family, carrying those values into the classroom. By junior high, the influence of peers begins to surpass that of parents for many students, a trend that can lead to the perception somewhat later that parental opinions don’t matter at all.
Parents who wish to continue to exercise some influence in the lives of their children might wish to consider the following significant points. First, evaluate the caliber of the peer group in which your son or daughter functions. Does that group largely reflect your value system? Second, since it is well established that class size has a great impact upon learning, does your child have the advantage of smaller classes? (Depending upon school resources, many students are required to take classes with as many as 30 or more peers on a daily basis.) When parents of able students complain about large class sizes or disruptive peers, they are frequently told that bright children can learn under any circumstances. But should they have to function under such conditions?
Peer influences often seem to become more pronounced after the seventh grade, in part because of the hormonal changes and accompanying social growth that follow. It is during these post-elementary years that red flags can begin to appear, even for well adjusted and productive boys and girls. Sometimes, small changes can be sufficiently corrective: increased contact with teachers and school counselors; more challenging school and extracurricular activities; a section change, when indicated. For others, greater change may be indicated, including a change of schools. While we would all like to believe that our children can thrive in schools funded by our tax dollars, that may not always be optimal, particularly at the secondary level.

This entry was posted in Academic Consultant, Class size, Communicating with your teen, Educational Consultant, Educational Counselor, peer groups, Teens and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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