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Parenting Strategies to Support School Engagement

Parenting Strategies to Support School Engagement

Jacqueline A. Rhew, LCPC

Students typically report a higher level of school engagement and motivation when they experience routine, consistency and predictability in their home. The switch to an eLearning or even hybrid education model in response to the pandemic has certainly presented challenges to this. While parents have dedicated themselves to navigating this change as successfully as possible, many are finding this process challenging and even overwhelming.

With that in mind, and as we prepare to enter the second half of a school year that has been filled with so much uncertainty, I wanted to provide some helpful tips for parents to continue supporting their children and teens.


  1. IN-PERSON and Virtual LEARNING: Ensure that your child understands the expectations around school attendance and work completion.
  2. Create a realistic plan outlining key expectations and privileges. Attempt to focus on expectations for school engagement, hygiene, and household responsibilities.
  3. Discuss the privileges earned for meeting expectations, trying not to allow the child to have access to the privileges if expectations are not being met. This can be challenging for many parents, especially if the child is struggling emotionally, however the consistency will in fact help support the child.
  4. Try to identify obstacles to setting and following through with expectations. For some parents its fear, guilt or concern that the child may become combative in the home environment, especially regarding limits around electronic use. If this is the case, seek additional support. Try to avoid power struggling and becoming reactive or aggressive, but rather take breaks and reassess plan if necessary.


  1. Encourage the child to brainstorm solutions for engagement, such as a standing desk (I have used an ironing board ), workstation outside of bedroom, etc. Your child may say ‘I do not care about school’. Avoid power struggles, simply remind child about choices and expectations. Sometimes, creating a fun workstation that minimizes distractions may help!
  2. See if the social worker or school personnel can connect with your child virtually or in the building to help the child build connections.  
  3. Review healthy coping strategies for stress.
  4. Celebrate your child’s successes with time with one or both parents in an enjoyable activity, favorite dinner, extra electronic time!!!! 
  5. Help by eliminating distractions in the child’s bedroom that could prevent your child or teen from school engagement or getting enough sleep including having a tv in the room, video games etc.
  6. Review expectations the day before returning to school, especially following a weekend or break from school.
  7. Keep the lines of communication open, having conversations with your child when you and the child are calm. Try asking some questions, but also listening to your child’s thoughts and feelings. 
  8. Communicate with your school if there are school concerns.
  9. Seek supports from your child’s school, pediatrician, local counseling agency or hospital program. Contact your school student service office for a full list of resources.
  10. Try to stay calm as challenging as this can be!


Keep in mind that it will take a few weeks of consistency to see a noticeable shift in your child’s behaviors, with the goal leading to school engagement. It will also be important to partner with the child’s school staff to provide support for your child, as well as receive support for yourself.