On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Everyone knows parent involvement at school means better grades and test scores. However, this conventional wisdom may be wrong. Yet school involvement is a factor in child custody cases. In light of new research, this factor may no longer be useful.

In developing a parenting plan, courts look to a parent’s knowledge and capacity to be informed about your kid’s teachers, activities, and your ability to provide consistent routines, discipline, and making sure homework and projects are done.

Although this is a routine factor in creating a parenting plan, researchers at the University of Texas and Duke University have found that this hallmark of parental involvement doesn’t affect academic achievement.

Researchers examined about 30 years of surveys, and tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in education. The researchers indexed these measures to children’s academic performance, including test scores in reading and math.

What they found surprised them. Most measurable forms of parental involvement seem to yield few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire. Worse, evidence shows that in middle school, parental help with homework can bring test scores down!

So what does help?

– Reading aloud to young kids

– Talking with teenagers about college plans.

– Embedding your children in social settings in which they meet many college-educated adults with interesting careers.

– Communicating the value of education.

– Teaching your children to ask critical questions.

– Getting your kid in the class of a teacher with a good reputation.

Don’t get confused by the new research. Parents involved in schools can be effective at getting Smartboards, better textbooks, new playgrounds, and other “extras” that make a school come to life.

Parental involvement in children’s lives is essential, and is also a factor courts look to in crafting parenting plans and timesharing schedules. This new research is helping parents to learn what works best.

You can read more about the latest research in the Atlantic.