How Latino Parents Can Help Children Succeed in School
Considering the less favorable academic performance and high school dropout rates of Latino youth in the U.S. (National Center for Educational Statistics, NCES, 2008), there is significant interest in promoting the academic achievement and success of Latino youth. Individual characteristics such as discipline and motivation do contribute to adolescents' academic success, but research points to the critical role of family members and parents on the academic achievement of Latino youth (Alfaro, Umaña-Taylor, & Bámaca, 2006; Anguiano-Viramontez, 2004; Ceballo, 2004).
Many Schools Believe Latino Parents Are Not Helping Their Children Academically
Latino Parents Support Education in Non-Traditional Ways
- Placing a high value on education.
- Motivating their children to do well academically.
- Monitoring or "keeping an eye" on them.
- Providing emotional support for academic endeavors (Ceballo, 2004; Romo & Falbo, 1996).
- Encouraging and motivating their children via narratives of the hardships that the family has experienced (Lopez, 2001; Villanueva, 1996).
- Emphasizing the importance of education as a way out of manual labor.
- Excusing them from doing chores, keeping other siblings quiet while doing homework, or expressing pride for their academic success (Ceballo, 2004).
Barriers and Challenges to Latino Parents' Engagement In Youth Academics
- Latino Parents often lack knowledge of the U.S. educational system and the expectations of school personnel.
- Recent immigrant parents are often unfamiliar with how to navigate the U.S. educational system (Ceballo, 2004).This may be one reason why Latino parents do not feel confident in their ability to help their children (Okagaki & Frensch, 1998). The lack of familiarity with the school system hinders parents' abilities to provide academic support and advocate for their youth's academics (Romo & Falbo, 1996).
- Latino Parents often lack time due to having multiple jobs or working long hours.
- The exposure to long working hours forces parents to spend less time with their children, limiting the attention they can give to their children's academic success (Parra-Cardona, Cordova, Holtrop, Villarruel, & Wielding, 2008).
- Latino Parents often have limited English proficiency.