"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Parents and Education

I think one could easily argue that parents have a great impact on a child's performance in school. In fact, some may even suggest that parents have greater influence than teachers do. How a parent influences a child's education occurs at different levels and in different areas. Thus, quantitatively assessing the effects of parents on a child's learning is extremely challenging. It is therefore wise to address this issue not in a broad or generalized manner so that one may pinpoint exactly which ways parental involvement makes a positive contribution. There are after all numerous avenues through which parents can participate in their child's education. What a parent does for a child's education is largely shaped by the parent's dream or aspiration. It was pretty obvious to me that for my mother going up the stage to place a medal on one of her children made her really proud and happy.

My mother on stage with my younger brother during his high school graduation
My father also made it clear to me that all he wanted was that we all finished school. My father did not finish high school. To see us graduate and accomplish something he did not was his dream. There is no doubt that both of my parents place a high value in education. Both believe as well that we could all make it by working hard and giving nothing less than our best.

Now, it turns out that there is evidence that a parent's aspiration is one of the factors that impact positively a child's motivation for learning. Here is an abstract of a paper published in the Journal of Educational Research:



The above study was quite methodical in deciphering relationships between what a parent does and how motivated a child is in learning. Motivation is a key aspect in learning. Children who are motivated to study are obviously more likely to stay in school. Parental involvement can come in so many different ways like being active in parent-teacher associations, establishing rules or schedules (when to view television or visit Facebook) at home, assisting in their children's projects or homework, and others. Thus, it is important to focus on a limited number of ways parents get involved in their child's education to gain useful insights on what works and what does not work. Doing so enables the above researchers to find what generally has a positive impact on a child's motivation to learn. It is the parent's aspiration.

It is not surprising to see that a parent's aspiration for his or her child plays a major role in learning motivation. What is surprising is that there are parents who do not have such aspiration. My parents probably never aspired that I actually pursue higher education to obtain a doctorate degree, but their dream that I finish high school was enough to propel me to take my studies seriously.








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