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BFTP: Parent portals - are we encouraging helicopter parenting?

Our school has provided a parent portal to our student information system data for a dozen years now. Using a browser or mobile app, parents can view current grades, attendance, work completion, and other data on their children.

All good, yes?

As the father of a child whose idea of satisfactory school performance and his teachers' were often at odds, I would have found such a resource invaluable. While I never did my son's work for him, I always saw my parental role as doing quality control and assuring school work came before recreation. Good access to information about my son's academic performance would have helped me do a better job of both those tasks.

"Homework all done? Grades good? Projects complete?"

"All good, Dad, so let me get back to my video game."

I don't think my son ever deliberately misled me about how he was doing in school. I just think he was a little clueless at times. As a parent, I could have done a better job cluing him in if I knew how he was doing on an ongoing basis rather than just a parent-teacher conferences or report card times.

But helicopter parenting seems to be a growing epidemic. defines it as:

a style of child rearing in which an overprotective mother or father discourages a child's independence 
by being too involved in the child's life: 
In typical helicopter parenting, a mother or father swoops in 
at any sign of challenge or discomfort.
Where does good parenting end and helicopter parenting begin? Does access to student performance data in real time encourage overparenting? Are we doing our kids an injustice by not allowing the chips to fall where they may when work is missing or badly done? Or are we neglecting our role as responsible adults if we don't insist our children put work before leisure and work to the best of their abilities*?

Any good guidelines for how access to student data can be used responsibly?

* In an ideal world, homework would be so engaging and meaningful, children would happily pursue it before any other activity. I am not holding my breath waiting for this to become the norm.

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Reader Comments (3)

I believe too many students work in a two grad world - either they get an A or they have failed. My own daughter was a very solid b / B+ student, getting a few A's along the way. She has become a great writer and artist, and is enjoying her first college class.

What happened to the B and C students? I was a B student all through high school and felt very successful. I did not always give 100% on everything, but I did learn.

April 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Kenn,

I was so worried my daughter would get hung up on being a straight A student that I paid her $5 for each A on her report card and $10 for each B.

I was pretty much a B/C student in high school and still got into college. Grade inflation?


April 24, 2017 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

We definitely struggle with this balance. Would like to think we can trust our kids to behave responsibly, but have now taken to installing kidslox app on their phones to block apps until homework is done and using the mac parental controls to do the same there. At first we worried that we're becoming household dictators, but without these measures they just zone out. I guess we could confiscate their phones completely, but that seems even harsher...

September 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJanice Beck

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