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Class XXXX, Section XXXX, Fall 2012



The Influence of Families on Children's School Success

The ecology of human development is a complex web of personal relationships, social

settings, and institutions that influence developmental trajectories independently and

interactively. In the early life course, families and schools represent arguably the two primary

ecological contexts. Thus families and schools are two primary sources of social capital in the

early life course.

Indeed, the school as an educational institution that cultivates human capitalthe skills,

knowledge, and strategies that boost individual productivity (Hoover-Dempsey at al., 1995). Yet,

the school does more than deliver curricula to students. It also organizes the social environment

in which students spend the greater part of their week. As a primary site of social interaction,

therefore, the school is also a source of social capital for young people.

Hence, teaching is a very difficult job of great responsibility and most specific character.

The teacher forms attitudes to his subject and attitudes to learning. While communicating with

children a teacher studies them closely to discover their strengths and weaknesses, their needs

and abilities, their interests. Thus a good teacher always regards capacities his pupils have. He

tries to temper his teaching methods to the children’s abilities and aptitudes. He builds his work

upon what he learns about children. An environment should be created to stimulate children to

develop their abilities mad satisfy their interests. It is a purpose of education to liquidate

ignorance. But it is also the function of education to link your school and family with your


But, in fact, families are a primary source of social capital for young people, especially in

relation to their education. As children move through the educational system, parents can provide

instrumental assistance, impart information about education and future opportunities, establish



and reinforce norms of expected behavior and achievement, and offer support for the navigation

of new arenas and the experience of both success and failure, all of which foster better academic

functioning. The transmission of these valuable resources, however, is largely predicated on the

emotional tone of parent-adolescent relationships, with close ties facilitating this transmission

and distant ties blocking it (Leitch et al., 1998). This problem focuses on this affective

component of the parent-adolescent relationship. Thus, it considers a family conduit of social

capital rather than direct indicators of family-based social capital.

Above all, the impact of parental induction is related to the child's level of cognitive

development, and that "social learning theory is best suited to account for early forerunners of

morality which consist of expression and inhibition of specific acts defined by socialization

agents as good or bad and rewarded or punished accordingly" (Sigel, 1992). Children's

understanding of reasons underlying rules as objective and rational (as opposed to awareness of

the rule) is fostered by parental use of induction, and appears to be more closely tied to the

child's cognitive processes. On the basis of data concerning helping and sharing behavior of

kindergarten children, it is concluded that both induction and external control by parents may

serve to teach children to behave in accordance with inductive statements. It is likely that both

aspects of parental behavior are necessary because external control provides information

concerning acceptable and unacceptable behavior, while children's understanding of the reasons

for acceptability of behavior is affected by induction or other strategies that are aimed at logical

cognitive processes of the child. Parents who evidence teaching styles consistent with social

learning theory (verbal and non-verbal reinforcement, e.g.) are expected to have children who

evidence high awareness of rules and conventions (Sigel, 1992). Parental styles that stimulate the

child's own thinking concerning reasons and explanations are expected to be related to children's



objective and rational explanation for rules and conventions. It is recognized that the child also

can affect the parent's behavior, as well as vice versa.

Furthermore, two general questions should be put to parents, at least. A first and basic

question concerns the relation between beliefs and behavior. Do parents' beliefs about children's

abilities affect the way that they behave toward children? Much of the recent interest in parental

beliefs has stemmed from a conviction that there must be some relation between belief and

behaviorthat what parents think about children must affect how they treat children.

The second question concerns the relation between parents' beliefs and children's

cognitive development. Do children develop best when their parents hold accurate conceptions

of their abilities? Are some sorts of general belief systems about children and development more

predictive of good cognitive development than are others? The general answer to both questions

is yes (Miller, 1986).

To illustrate the importance of understanding that the family/parents are the expert

regarding their child, social scientists who have studied the family and those who have studied

educational stratification have produced convincing evidence that parental divorce is negatively

associated with educational success. Compared to children who live with both parents until

adulthood, children from divorced families have lower educational expectations, poorer school

attendance, and lower grades. Research has suggested that mothers' remarriage does not improve

the chances of children's high school graduation and that children from stepparent families are

only marginally better off than are those from single-parent families on many educational


To repeat, the "family instability "or "turbulence" perspective views the negative effects

of divorce as the result of processes that surround this disruption. This argument suggests that



divorce itself may not cause poorer academic performance; rather, parental conflict and other

family processes that are associated with divorce may be the underlying cause of poor academic

outcomes. Conflict is common prior to divorce and negatively affects children's well-being,

regardless of whether the parents dissolve their marriage.

That is, children who experience family instability perform poorly in school and

consequently are placed in lower academic strata. Students in these lower strata are exposed to

less-engaging material and experience reduced opportunities for postsecondary enrollment.

However, after the eighth grade, it is difficult to change strata, meaning that a temporary

reduction in academic ability that is due to family instability in late childhood may result in long-

term negative effect so n educational outcomes. These effects may arise more because of the

rigidity of the stratification system in high school than because of a long-term reduction in a

child's academic ability. If this description is accurate, we would expect that controlling for

grades or parents' educational expectations would eliminate the association between family

experiences and educational attainment. If family disruption produces a long-term reduction in

academic ability, we would expect the effects of family experiences to persist net of controls for

earlier educational experiences. Controlling grades and educational expectations reduces to

insignificance the association between maternal cohabitation and levels of attainment.

The link between parental emotional health and child well-being is also a great problem.

Children with an emotionally ill parent are expected to exhibit more problems than those with

two healthy parents because of both the genetic transmission and the disruption of family life

associated with such illnesses. The presence of an ill mother or father is related to disturbed

emotional and social development in young children, including higher rates of internalizing (e.g.,

depression and anxiety) and externalizing (e.g., conduct disorder) behaviors, increased rates of



psychopathology as adolescents, especially major depressive disorder, and continued increased

risk of psychopathology as an adult. On the whole, children of clinically depressed mothers are

at higher risk of developing not only a depressive disorder during childhood but also a host of

other psychological and behavioral problems including anxiety and conduct disorders (Siegler et

al., 1992).

Moreover, parental structure is likewise important for achievement. Besides protecting

their children confidentiality, parents should have a responsibility to show respect for the

religion, political and social beliefs. To honor the beliefs, parents must be keenly aware of the

comments they make and terms they use. They must not let their own political and religious

attitudes become statements of public record in their homes. Respect for the ethical background,

sexual orientation and social customs is also their responsibility. To foster a climate of

acceptance without approving every lifestyle and attitude reflected or represented by the children

they bring up, requires to walk a very fine line. It is their duty to do or to say nothing that would

demean or insult any group nor allow an atmosphere that would tolerate slurs of any kind.

Whether they are aware or not, parents’ actions, their behavior and their attitudes often are

emulated by the young people. Parents do influence them, whether they mean to or not (Hoover-

Dempsey at al., 1995).

Up to this point, families and schools have been considered as independent contexts, but

the interaction between these contexts is a key part of developmental children's school success.

When applied to the early life course, this concept of functional substitution suggests that young

people may benefit more from being enrolled in schools high in social capital if they lack

effective conduits of social capital at home. Indeed, related research on childhood and

adolescence suggests that this might occur. Developmental research has demonstrated that



problems in the parent-child relationship can be countered by support from friends, relatives, and

extra-familial adults, and educational research has demonstrated that positive schooling

environments make more of a difference for students who come from socioeconomically

disadvantaged families.

As stated, families are the first context of interest. This paper replicates that the emotional

tone of the parent-adolescent relationship is an important factor in adolescent academic

achievement over time. The importance of this emotional dimension falls in between more

tangible and more commonly studied aspects of families: parents' educational attainment and

their aspirations for their adolescents' educational futures. The degree of emotional closeness

between parents and their adolescents therefore appears to be a conduit of children's school

success in that close ties facilitated the transmission of certain instrumental resourcessuch as

parents' aspirationsthat cultivated the human.

To conclude, family and educational research are two key areas of theoretical and

empirical activity in psychology, sociology, and related disciplines. Studying the intricate web of

the ecology of human development, however, requires not only exploring the independent role of

families and schools but also recognizing that they come together, in positive and negative ways,

to direct developmental trajectories. Consequently, a greater dialogue between these two

prominent areas of research would be highly valuable.




Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., & Sandler, H. M. (1995). Parental involvement in children's education:

Why does it make a difference? Teachers College Record, 95, 310-331.

Leitch, M. L., & Tangri, S. S. (1998). Barriers to home-school collaboration. Educational

Horizons, 66, 70-74.

Miller, S. A. (1986). Parents' beliefs about their children's cognitive abilities. Developmental

Psychology, 22, 276-284.

Siegler, R. S., & Richards, D. D. (1992). The development of intelligence. New York: Cambridge

University Press.

Sigel, I. E. (1992). Parental belief systems: The psychological consequences for children.

Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.