This spring, parents and grandparents throughout the nation will be misting up as the chords of “Pomp and Circumstance” play and the children and grandchildren they have cherished and nourished walk across the stage to receive their diplomas. Sadly, however, for every three high-school students who earn their degrees, one peer will fail to graduate.
Families play a significant role in a child’s academic success: Parental presence and involvement can make the difference between a youth’s academic accomplishment or failure.
Students from intact families are more likely to attain more years of schooling, graduate from high school, and attend and complete college. Likewise, youths whose parents are more involved with their schooling tend to complete higher levels of education and are more likely to graduate from high school. And parental involvement tends to be greater in intact families, augmenting the divide in children’s prospects for the future.
The impact of family on a child’s education plays a role throughout a child’s life, and the positive impact of parental involvement has been documented among general student populations as well as more specifically among low-income and minority populations.
Preschoolers whose parents are very involved with their schools tend to score higher in all aspects of school readiness. Children whose parents read to them more often exhibit greater cognitive development and, likewise, cognitive stimulation provided by parents is associated with greater academic achievement. Kindergartners living with both biological parents tend to have higher reading scores than peers in other family structures, and children who live in intact families tend to test higher in math and fare better with regard to behavioral outcomes as well as academic achievement.
The impact of family continues beyond K-12, with students from intact families more likely to apply and be admitted to college. Additionally, researchers find that students whose fathers show more involvement in their childhoods tend to achieve higher levels of education later in life.
Parental involvement, even when not related to educational activities, likewise increases children’s likelihood for academic success. Youths whose fathers engage in leisure activities with them tend to achieve better grades.
Every child should have the opportunity for a bright academic future. Policies to promote strong and stable families should be coupled with those that support parental involvement in education, such as school choice. More parents engaged in their children’s education means more of the nation’s young people will be able to experience the fulfillment of graduation day and continued success in life.