Explain, using theories and research evidence, different ways that parents have an influence on their children’s school experience, learning and achievement (such as through parental involvement, attachments and parenting styles)
This essay will explain the influence that parents have on their child’s educational experience and achievement. This will also explore different studies and theories regarding the effects of parental involvement, attachment and parenting styles. Parental involvement is defined as parental participation in a child’s educational process and experience. Diana Baumrind (1971) identified four types of parenting styles including authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved. Those all parenting styles that that this essay will explain and use research evidence to determine which parenting style has the most positive outcome for a child’s educational experience.
Parents who are involved in their child’s education are more likely to obtain higher levels of academic achievement than children with uninvolved parents. Some of the most effective ways for parents to participate and get involved in their child’s learning is to work with their children at home using learning activities. Some examples of these activities can be reading to children before bedtime, help with homework, and communicating with children about any difficulties. “Students with below-average grades reported that their parents spent little or no time with them on schoolwork” (Stein & Thorkildsen, 1999, p.18). This shows that parental involvement has a significant influence on a child’s academic achievement and educational experience.
Another way of parents can be involved in their children’s education is by attending a parent-teacher meeting, this is a conference between a child parents and their teachers which allows parents to see their child’s performance, behaviour in education and gain knowledge on how they could contribute to their child’s learning. Children with involved parents receive better grades and long-term academic achievements. The former secretary of education stated that “parents who do not play with their child or read them stories risk limiting their development” (Gurdian,2006). Children with parents that participate in their child’s education have higher grades compared to those parents play a passive role or are absent. This is because involved parents encourage their child to succeed in school. They also help their child with their homework and work in partnership with teachers to find any problems and solutions to improve the child’s learning.
However, there are factors that could affect a child’s academic achievement such as social class. Children from middle-class parents’ have more economic security and lack any worry about their financial situation and because of that, they can dedicate time and attention to widening their children’s educational success.
Data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS) studied the impact of parental involvement on GCSE achievements at the age of 16 in English and Maths. The results showed that parents that maintained high levels of interest and involvement in their child were linked to good exam results. There’s also been a correlation between father’s involvement and positive outcomes for children. There is research evidence that father’s involvement in their child’s learning is associated with positive educational outcomes, better grades, and a longer time in education.
Parents have an important influence on their child’s development and educational experience. Baumrind (1971) identified four ‘normal’ parenting styles. Authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. Authoritarian parents are described to be controlling and place a high value on obedience and conformity. They also have high expectations for their child without offering warmth or responsiveness to their child’s needs. Authoritarian parents depend on discipline and punishments, which leaves the child with little or no control over their life. The effects of this parenting style are that a child tends to depend on their parents (especially girls). Children raised in this style are less socially adapt and boys are no exception as they are likely to do poorly in school and possibly hostile towards their peers. Research shows that authoritarian parenting is endorsed more by Chinese or Asian-Americans in comparison to European-Americans parents.
Similar to authoritarian parents, authoritative parents set high expectations for children. But unlike the authoritarian parents, they are responsive to their child’s needs and offer them warmth. These parents value high levels of communication and affection. They listen and respect the child’s ideas and assert responsibility. Baumrind states that children raised by authoritative parenting are the more likely to have positive outcomes in school. Children raised by authoritative parents learn that they are ‘competent’ individuals and they may foster emotional maturity, high self-esteem and cognitive development (Baumrind 1966). Children with authoritative parents are less likely to engage in drug use than those with uninvolved parents. Cohen and Rice (1997) studied the correlation between parenting style and negative outcomes among a sample of 386 students. The results illustrated that students who smoke, think their parents as less authoritative and more permissive. Authoritative parenting styles tend to produce children who are happy, competent and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
Permissive parents offer plenty of warmth but do not set rules or limitation for children. They simply allow the child to do as he or she pleases without any demands or regards to such things as chores. With this type of parenting children are not controlled nor encouraged. (Baumrind 1991).
Another research by Hickman, Bartholomae, and McKenry studied the connection between parenting styles and academic achievements. Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) was used to assess the response of the participants’ perceptions of their parents parenting styles while authoritative parenting style was positively correlated with students’ academic achievement.
Uninvolved parenting is characterised by lack of responsiveness to a child’s needs. These types of parent have an undemanding and neglectful approach to their children. Research suggests that children with uninvolved parents, even at the age of three display high levels of aggression and tend to be disruptive in class and perform poorly in school. The lack of emotional responsiveness could result in the child to have difficulty forming attachments and engaging with people in social situations in their later in life. This type of parent lack limitations or rules for children and this could make it hard for children to learn good behaviour expected in school and other social situations. This may be why children with uninvolved parents tend to misbehave and seen as naughty.
Attachment is a deep and emotional bond between a child and their primary caregiver. (Ainsworth 1973). Attachment is not an innate trait in children, but a relationship formed because of survival instincts of children to their caregiver. Ainsworth and Bell (1970) identified three styles of children ‘s attachment to adult figures including parents (secure, Anxious-avoidant and Anxious-resistant). Securely attached children are stated to be friendly; they exhibit tolerance and have a mild protest. They are believed to be focused, independent. Securely attached children have more fulfilling interpersonal relationships and more trust in others (Larose & Bernier, 2001). They can also be distressed but easily comforted and are able to concentrate in class, and participate in school activities and may perform better than other attachment types. Anxious-avoidant children are inconsistent and impulsive. They show a low level of self-control; they are disobedient, moody, and aggressive with little or low self-esteem. They display no physical or emotional attachment to anyone and are less socially competent. The avoidant children display nonchalance when parents leave or return. (Bergin & Bergin, 2009). The resistant children will not explore their surroundings and are often wary of strangers, even when the parent is present. When the caregiver departs, the child is often highly distressed.
Harlow (1958) conducted an experiment to test the theory of attachment, in which he took baby monkeys away from their parents and isolated them from birth. They had no contact with anybody. The monkeys were put into four groups and each group was exposed to prolonged isolation. Eventually, when the monkeys were put back with other monkeys to observe the effects and the results showed that the monkeys had strange behaviours such as clutching their own bodies. This study helped understand the importance of attachment by using the closest animal to humans.
In conclusion, parents have a crucial influence on their children’s school experience and learning achievements. Parents could either be significantly involved in their child’s education which has proven to be determining a factor for educational success. Or risk limiting their child’s academic achievements. If parents do choose to be involved in their child’s learning, there four parenting styles they can use and one in particular that has been established as the most effective is authoritative parenting. This type of parent is described to be affectionate, democratic and discipline within reason. The attachment theory has also shown to have an input in an understanding children’s behaviour and their attachment to their parents.
Ainsworth, M. and Bell, S. (1970). Attachment, Exploration, and Separation: Illustrated by the Behavior of One-Year-Olds in a Strange Situation. Child Development, 41(1), p.49.
Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1973). The development of infant–mother attachment. In B. Caldwell & H. Ricciuti (Eds.), Review of child development research 3,1–94. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior, Child Development, 37(4), 887-907.
Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95.
DCSF (2008) The Impact of Parental Involvement in children’s education: A DCFS Report https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DCSF-Parental_Involvement.pdf
Maccoby, E. (1992). The role of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental Psychology, 28(6), pp.1006-1017.
Larose, S. and Bernier, A. (2001). Social support processes: mediators of attachment state of mind and adjustment in late adolescence. Attachment & Human Development, 3(1), pp.96-120.
Stein, M. and Thorkildsen, R. (1999). Parent involvement in education. Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa International.