|Parents and Learning (IAE - IBE, 2000, 36 p.)|
Children do best in school when parents provide predictable boundaries for their lives, encourage productive use of time, and provide learning experiences as a regular part of family life.
Studies find that the routine of family life, the daily interactions between parents and children, the types of hobbies and recreational activities the family enjoys, all have a bearing on childrens readiness for school learning. When children from low-income families do things with their parents on weekends, have dinner as a family and engage in family hobbies, they make up for some of the disadvantages of poverty, and their school performance improves.
How time is used is an important consideration in the homes of high-achieving students. While the parents encourage their childrens independence, they do so with a constant eye on how successfully their children are managing their freedom. They praise productivity and accomplishment. They challenge their children to use time wisely. Children in these homes are accustomed to calendars, schedules, grocery lists, to do lists, household chores, reading, studying and playing mentally challenging games. One study found that high-achieving students spend about twenty hours each week outside of school in constructive learning activities, often with the support, guidance or participation of their parents. These activities might include homework, music practice, reading, writing, visiting museums and engaging in learning activities sponsored by youth organizations.
When the family sets aside time each day for children to study, rather than asking children to study only when required to do so by their teachers, the children learn that studying is valued by the family. Studying and learning become a natural part of family life. Children do their best when they operate within the boundaries of the familys settled routine. Some activities are daily touchstones; they define the flow of time and enable children to attend to activities of high priority, such as studying, reading and talking with family members. Eating meals at about the same time each day, going to bed at about the same time, and studying and reading at about the same time will establish a productive and healthful rhythm for childrens lives. Children also need a predictably quiet and well-lit place to study and read. They benefit from family interest in hobbies, games and other activities that exercise the mind and engage the child in interaction with other people. A daily routine that includes a time to study and read, a home environment that provides a quiet place to study, and family activities that include games and hobbies which engage childrens minds and provide interaction with other family members characterize a home where children are prepared by habit and value to learn in school.
References: Benson, Buckley & Medrich (1980); Clark (1983, 1990).