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Fostering Academic Success at Home: Being Intentional About Family Relationships, Part 1

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a happy familyAmid the constant debates about educational funding, benefits of private vs. public education, teacher preparation and professional development, recent studies have unearthed an even more significant factor in the academic success of children: parental support and home life. According to a 2012 study involving 10,000 students, “while both school and family involvement are important, the role of family involvement is stronger when it comes to academic success." As a parent, that kind of statement can bring a mixture of both relief, if you’re not confident that your child’s school is ideal, as well as added pressure, as you consider your weighty role.

Knowing your child’s academic success is largely in your hands, you can learn how to effectively steer your children toward attaining their highest potential. Sometimes looking up all the ways you can influence your kids’ educational roles can be daunting, though, like drinking from a fire hydrant. So we’re going to consider a few categories of parental support, starting with pursuing healthy family relationships.

What It Takes

One of the biggest determinants of children’s academic success is actually something that seems unrelated to academics, and maybe even opposed to it: family relationships and interactions. Clearly, a conversation-free meal followed by banishing a kid to his or her bedroom to study fails to allow for this all-important aspect of a family life conducive to educational achievement. Referred to as “family social capital” in the 2012 study cited above, the basic components include healthy parent-child relationships that foster trust and open communication as well as participation in a child’s education. Like any relationship aims, this one requires time, space, and intentional pursuit.

Questions To Consider

As a parent, where and when will you intentionally pursue this kind of interaction? Family dinner time has been seen to positively affect kids in many ways, including academic achievement. Ideally, it is a daily routine with all members gathered around the table together at home, at approximately the same time each day. Of course, sometimes there will be exceptions. If dinner time must be hurried in order to allow for ample time to complete homework and other necessary chores, can you make the ride home from soccer practice or orchestra rehearsal an unplugged time of connecting? Even if you have to work late and then catch up on your own household chores, can you take a break and establish a bed-time routine? Maybe you could reserve the last 15 minutes before your children go to bed to read or look at something you or they found meaningful and inspiring and discuss it together?

There is no magical formula, no perfect schedule or space, but the point is to be intentional about building your relationship.

Continue reading with Part 2.

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