BC Council for Families

Family Facts: BC Council Blog

Parent Support Leads to Academic Success

Dec 20

Pilar Onatra
Program Coordinator
Parents know that it is important to spend time reading with their children but sometimes lack of time and confidence in their skills can act as barriers.  For these parents, there is good news - according to recent data from an OECD study on student performance in over 70 countries, parents need neither PhDs or unlimited hours in order to make a significant contribution to their children's school success.

In a 2009 educational assessment, researchers for the OECD gathered data from 15 year old students worldwide and addressed questions to the students' parents focused on the kinds of activities parents did with their children when the children were in their first year of primary school. Other questions concentrated on activities parents were engaged in with their children at the time of the test, when their children were 15 years old.  The results revealed that:

  • Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all.
  • The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family's socio-economic background.
  • Parents' engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance.

According to the study, parent-child activities that are associated with better reading performance among students involve relatively little time and no specialized knowledge. What these activities do demand, though, is genuine interest and active engagement.  Among the parental involvemnt activities that had the greatest effect on reading performance:

  • Reading a book with a child
  • Talking with children about activities of the day
  • Telling stories to children
  • Discussing political or social issues with children

Activities that had little effect on reading performance included playing with alphabet toys with children.

The OECD's conclusion? "All parents can help their children achieve their full potential by spending some time talking and reading with their children - even,  perhaps especially, when their children are very young."

Enjoy this holiday season and if you can set aside some time and read to the children around you.

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