Study: Parental Engagement Related to Child’s Academic Success

As a parent, you probably already know that reading to your toddler is important, but what about your school-aged children? What if you knew that reading to your school-aged children could actually increase their academic performance? That’s what a recent study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says.

The results of the study are derived from a test that is performed every three years by the OECD. The PISA test (Program for International Student Assessment) is conducted on 15-year-old students in 70 different nations. Finland, Korea, Hong-Kong, Canada, China and Shanghai-China usually fare very well on the test. The United States? Not so hot.

In previous years, the data was only compared and delivered in the form of results, but this year, the study took it another step further. They looked at the differences in those children, particularly the differences in how they are parented. Around 5,000 children’s parents were interviewed for the study.

Of those children, parents who read with their children often during the first year of grade school “show[ed] markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parent read with them infrequently or not at all.” Even more intriguing is that the difference didn’t seem to be partial to the child’s “socioeconomic background.” No matter where the child was from, no matter what their income, children whose parents read a book to their children at least once or twice a week scored an average of 25 points higher on the PISA test.

But wait – there’s more! Talking to your child about their school day and what they are learning can help boost scores too, as can talking to your child about social and political issues.

“Students whose parents discuss political or social issues with them either weekly or daily score 28 points higher, on average, than those whose parents discuss these issues less often or not all,” the report says.

Parents should be careful, however, not to “hover.” Alyson Schafer, parenting expert and author of numerous parenting books, including “Honey, I Wrecked the Kids,” says that there is a big difference between being supportive and adding more to your “to do list.”

“We want to be there in a support role, we want to let them know we believe in them but we don’t want to do so at the cost of having a toxic relationship,” says Schafer. “Kids will excel academically if they feel they have home support. So be helpful but if it starts to hurt the relationship, it’s time to scale back.”

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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