Family's Influence on a Child's Educational Success.

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Family's Influence on a Child's Educational Success

The family is a key element in every person's life; they have the greatest impact on a child's socialization (Macionis 70). Socialization is a learned behavior that remains with a person his entire life. Family influences nearly every aspect of children's life, including their education. Increasing evidence indicates that "schools are not solely responsible for promoting our young people's academic success; rather, families must be engaged in helping youths develop the knowledge and skills they need to function in tomorrow's workplace" (Israel 43). Therefore, the question is not whether parents influence education, but rather how and to what extent they do. A variety of explanations exist, including the size of the family, the parenting techniques, and the family's economic status.

Why do some parents become involved in their children's elementary and secondary education? Three major constructs are believed to be central to parents' basic involvement decisions. First, a parents' role construction defines parents' beliefs about what they are supposed to do in their children's education and appears to establish the basic range of activities that parents construe as important, necessary, and permissible for their own actions with and on behalf of children. Second, parents' sense of efficacy for helping their children succeed in school focuses on the extent to which parents believe that through their involvement they can exert positive influence on their children's educational outcomes. Third, general invitations, demands, and opportunities for involvement refer to parents' perceptions that the child and school want them to be involved. However, even well-designed school programs inviting involvement will meet with only limited success if they do not address issues of parental role construction and parental sense of efficacy for helping children succeed in school.

One theory suggests that the chief reason why a student's family life affects his/her education is based on the size of the family. More specifically, it suggests that those coming from a family with fewer children perform better academically than those coming from a family with many children. One main reason for this is attributed to the "dilution of familial resources available to children in large families and a concentration of such resources in small ones" (Blake 11). For example, in families with many children the parents have less time, less emotional and physical energy, less attention to give, and less ability to interact with children as individuals (Blake 11). Another reason that attention may be diluted is because of the many siblings. Often the mother is pregnant or recovering from pregnancy, which lessens her ability to care for the children. In addition, money is also often diluted. Blake says of that:

This type of dilution involves not only the parents' treatment of individual children--the ability to provide personal living space, cultural advantages such as travel, specialized instruction such as music lessons, specialized medical or dental care, as well as continuous and advanced schooling--but, as well, to provide settings the advantages of which are not divisible: living in a desirable neighborhood, or having a wide range of excellent reading material or recorded music in the house. (11)

This suggests that children coming from a poor background are already at an educational disadvantage, possibly even before any formal schooling occurs. Travel enables a child to become a more cosmopolitan person and teaches children about the different cultures of the world. Music teaches dedication and helps with memorization skills.

Other problems are associated with large families as well. A study by Lori Heise and Jane Roberts showed that children from large families don't interact with others outside the family group as much as those in a smaller family, which can limit their understanding...
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