Advice For Cobb County High School and Middle School Parents

education icon with silhouette of teach in front of class, holding a baton to a board.

By John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

We’re already into the first month of the new school year, and if you’re a parent, it probably feels like it’s been several months already. All that advice you read over the summer probably seems like ancient history. Yet you’re still wondering what you could do to make a difference in your son or daughter’s education, and if you even should do anything about it.

Here’s some advice from a college professor, not one who is an expert in family dynamics or pedagogy, but one who knows what to look for in recruiting good students to higher education. I’m also a parent of a college student and a high schooler as well. And my wife is a lead middle school teacher, so we’re a little bit like the Famers’ Insurance slogan: “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.”

1) Have Your Kid Read The Directions On Their Assignments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my wife, the middle school teacher, and her friends, as well as other instructors, complain about this. But a number of students just start plowing through the assignment, then either start asking questions covered at the top, or make easy mistakes in the work. Having this discipline to read what to do at the start will pay off in the long term.

2) Work With Teachers, Not Against Them. I am not a big fan of calling anyone “a Karen,” as I know many great Karens. But we all know the stereotype of the mother or father who seeks to bully a teacher, thinking this will somehow advance their son or daughter. It won’t.

I’ve taught a number of social studies education majors in classes. These young college students would go through a brick wall to teach your kids so much, for a lot less pay than many of their fellow graduates. Nothing would drive them further from the profession than being attacked by the parents of the kids they want so badly to teach. Teachers can be a valuable help, far more than a hindrance. I’d start every Parent-Teacher Conference with “what are three things my kid needs to work on.” Such information is so helpful to learn.

3) Your Student Needs To Learn What Good Research Is. The other day in a shoe shop in Atlanta, I heard a clerk say “I tell my kids ‘If you want to learn something, Google it.’” Have your kids learn, and reinforce, what’s good information, as opposed to bad material. I tell my kids “published material often has to be accountable for what’s written. Unpublished material isn’t.” You may want to lead by example, and demonstrate using a good source to learn something.

4) Extra-Curricular Activities: Quality > Quantity. When I was in high school, some kids tried to pad their resume and high school application by showing they were a member of nearly every extracurricular activity in school. Their record was a mile long and an inch deep. They, and their parents, thought it would help them get into college. It probably doesn’t. And even if you do, what have you really learned or contributed? Get into just a few organizations, and really make a difference in them, putting in the hours, working your way up to leading them. This college professor, who has been on the admissions committee from time to time, was impressed more by the depth of one’s service and activity than the breadth of those school club offerings on the application.

5) Get Your Child To Increase Their Personal Responsibility. Your kid is about to embark on a very independent course in the coming years. Get them some chances to develop life skills, like cooking, doing their own laundry, and some yardwork. My folks got me a checking account. I taught my son how to change a tire, and I need to show him how to check the oil (he might get his license next month). And whatever you do, stay away from doing your kid’s homework and assignments. You’re simply robbing your kids of an education, and it will come back to haunt them.

I know it’s tough talking about kids leaving the home, but that day will come. Chances are, that day will be much easier if they are ready to fly, instead of remaining sheltered in the nest.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.