Parental involvement in children's schooling consistently beneficial: study

In a study of more than 480,800 families, psychologists at the University of Illinois (UI) found that the more involved parents were in their children's schooling, the better the children's academic achievement, motivation and social adjustment, Xinhua has learned. The effects were consistent regardless of the child's age, race or socioeconomic status. The researchers analyzed the findings of more than 440 recent studies, exploring the effects of parents' involvement on children's academic achievement, engagement and motivation; their social and emotional functioning, such as cooperative and prosocial behavior, and self-esteem; and delinquent behaviors like substance use and aggression. They also examined whether the type of parental involvement mattered. "We saw a very consistent relationship between parents' involvement in children's schooling and children's adjustment, and that is true across a variety of different types of parental involvement, regardless of the children's age and the demographics of their families," said UI postdoctoral research associate Michael Barger. Parental involvement was not only linked to how well children performed academically but also to better social and emotional well-being. Although the links between parents' involvement and children's adjustment were consistently positive, there were some minor differences in the strength of the association, depending on the child's age, the researchers found. For example, preschoolers appeared to benefit more academically from engaging in intellectually stimulating home-based activities such as reading with their parents or family outings to the library than from their parents' presence at school. Conversely, greater academic achievement and motivation in elementary school and middle school students were associated with family discussions about what they learned in class, parental encouragement and cognitively stimulating activities. However, parental involvement with homework was sometimes disadvantageous. Children's academic achievement was lower when parents were more involved with their homework, although it did not appear to interfere with the children's motivation to learn. Children may benefit more if they're given the autonomy to do the work themselves and if parents step in only when the child asks for help or the parent notices that they're struggling, said UI Psychology Professor Eva Pomerantz. Most importantly, parents need not feel as if they're failing their child if they're not minutely involved in every facet of the child's education or they're not devoting every free hour to enrichment activities. "Some experts make the case that you must go to all the parent-teacher conferences and open houses, and take your child to the library, and so on, if you want to optimize your child's learning," Pomerantz said. "What we found is that parents don't have to do every single one of these things. These types of involvement are all similar in terms of how much they matter. Just pick what works for your family." The study is fixed for publication in the upcoming issue of the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin.


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