Family Engagement: A Collaborative, Systemic Approach for Middle School Counselors (Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Transformation)

Early adolescence is a period of intrapersonal and interpersonal transformation; thus, middle school counselors need to provide services that appropriately match their students’ and families’ developmental needs. A collaborative, systemic approach is one way that counselors can work with other school-based professionals to support parental/caregiver involvement. In this article, the authors discuss family disengagement in the middle school years and the middle school counselor as a collaborator of systemic change. Middle school research consistently demonstrates the importance of family involvement as a powerful influence on students’ achievement in school (Burkhardt, 2004; Downs, 2001; Epstein, 2004). When families are involved in their children’s education, early adolescents attend school more regularly, earn higher grades and receive higher test scores, complete more homework, demonstrate more positive attitudes and behaviors, have higher graduation rates, express higher aspirations, and are more likely to enroll in higher education than students with less involved families (Deslandes & Bertrand, 2005; National Association of School Psychologists, 2002; U.S. Department of Education, 1997). Furthermore, it has been suggested that the most influential contributor to students’ academic achievement is not socioeconomic status, but rather family involvement in their student’s educational development (Hawes & Plourde, 2005; Henderson & Berla, 1994). Thus, increasing family involvement in the education of early adolescents is an important goal for schools and educators.

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