I found this middle school involvement piece from the Wall Street Journal. No surprise, as Sue Shellenbarger's stuff is typically excellent on all kinds of parenting and school-family issues.
The upshot on this piece is likely comforting for many parents of middle schoolers, folks who are often frustrated that they can't be or their kids won't let them be or their schools aren't as open to them being as involved as they were in the elementary school.
That's OK. The kids are different; the involvement can be different. Seems like a natural progression.
A new research survey on parental involvement in middle school nails down an answer: The best way to promote achievement in middle school isn’t to help student with their homework, or even to volunteer for school fundraisers. Instead, middle-school students posted the best results in school when their parents stepped back a bit and moved into more of a “coaching role,” teaching them to value education, relate it to daily life and set high goals for themselves, says the study, published recently in the journal Developmental Psychology.
My only fear is that research like this will give parents a green light to disconnect from school. The fact is that staying connected can have quite positive effects even beyond the classroom. As the kids grow into more serious danger zones, that's the time when our connections with their friends' parents and their teachers and counselors serve as an early defense system and a zone defense system and a safety net. And those connections can be forged best through school involvement.
Understood if you're not hawking gift wrap now that junior is a 7th grader, but not OK to forsake the school involvement piece entirely. We may be there quite differently, but we still need to make those connections that will serve us and our becoming-independent (but not all the way there yet) children well.
Peer Pressure / School Cliques
By all means, let them test their wings, but remain watchful on the sidelines, ready to catch them when they fall. Afterall, they're still our children.