Good Parenting


Great article in the Business Insider May 6th 2016. To quote, summarise and comment:

“Good parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to do awesome things as adults. And while there isn’t a set recipe for raising successful children, psychology research has pointed to a handful of factors that predict success. Unsurprisingly, much of it comes down to the parents. Here’s what parents of successful kids have in common:”

  1. They make their kids do chores
  2. They teach their kids social skills
  3. They have high expectations
  4. They have healthy relationships with each other
  5. They’ve attained higher education levels
  6. They teach their kids maths early on
  7. They develop a relationship with their kids
  8. They’re less stressed
  9. They value effort over avoiding failure
  10. The mother works
  11. They have a higher socioeconomic status
  12. Their parenting style is  authoritative rather than authoritarian or permissive
  13. They teach perseverance and grit

Against all the fashions and trends and veiled criticisms of what has gone before that fashions and trends imply, I feel vindicated!  Psychology research is catching up with common sense. Apart from the obvious, some points need comment.

Firstly, definitions: The article quoted researcher, Diana Baumride, who described the three parenting styles quoted in point 12 as Permissive, where “the parent tries to be nonpunitive and accepting of the child,” Authoritarian: where “the parent tries to shape and control the child based on a set standard of conduct,”  and Authoritative, where “the parent tries to direct the child rationally” and where “the kid grows up with a respect for authority, but doesn’t feel strangled by it”.

Secondly, good parents teach their kids maths early on. From Northwestern University one coresearcher, Greg Duncan, said: “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.” I wonder how many early learning skills they studied? Does early tuition in other subjects, for example, language learning, have a similar effect?

Thirdly, the mothers work. Interesting. As most mothers work these days, this may be a context factor rather than a cause. However the researchers interpreted their findings as a modelling issue. The lead researcher said: “Role modeling is a way of signaling what’s appropriate in terms of how you behave, what you do, the activities you engage in, and what you believe,” and “There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother.”

Finally, the issue of higher socioeconomic status. Hekia Parata, New Zeaand’s current Minister of Education, needs to be listening to this. The researcher from Berkeley, Sean Reardon, stated that there are between 30 to 40% more students from higher socioeconomic contexts in the higher achievement levels. Hekia, instead of bashing teachers who work themselves to the bone, how about working at raising the socioeconomic status of those students at the tail?


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