The impact of family

There are at least four significant variables related to family and school experiences that account for two-thirds of differences in state scores of student learning success according to a new report recently released by ETS (Educational Testing Services.) You may also wish to view a New York Times article on the report.

These variables are:

  • Single parent families – Thirty-two percent of U.S. children live in single-parent homes, up from 23% in 1980. Forty-four percent of births to women under 30 are out-of-wedlock. 19% of children live in poverty and among black, American Indian/Alaskan native and Hispanic children the figure rises to 33%. The rate for “food insecure” female headed households is triple that for married couple families.
  • Hours spent watching TV – comparison of eighth-graders in 45 countries found that U.S. students spend less time reading books for enjoyment — and more time watching television and videos —than students in many other countries. 35% of U.S. 8th graders spent 4 or more hours daily on weekday TV viewing. U.S. teens also spent almost one more hour daily using the Internet than students in other countries, and less time reading for enjoyment or doing jobs at home.
  • Hours parents spend reading to kids – By age 4, children of professional families hear 35 million more words than children of parents on welfare. Sixty-two percent of high SES kindergartners are read to every day by their parents, compared to 36 percent of kindergartners from low SES groups.
  • Number of school absences – One in five students misses three days or more of school a month. The United States ranked 25th of 45 countries in students’ school attendance.

How could we use this information to help our parents in the nurture of their children?

What ways could our schools or churches reach out in ministry to respond to these needs around us?



Filed under classroom, kids/culture, student outcomes

13 responses to “The impact of family

  1. We could use this information to help our parents in the nuture of their children to show how much of a difference it makes to spend time with children. A parent should be the most important role model in a child’s life. It’s important that parents know the value of reading to their children at a young age so that when they start school they have already been exposed to a large vocabulary. Parents should take the time to teach their children values and the importance of school. Children should not be allowed to watch t.v. all day; they should be active in the community and have a wide variety of interests. Also, a single parent should do his/her best to find a job that will allow for time spent with his/her child. I can’t even begin to imagine the stress of being a single parent, but it’s important to always remember to put a child’s needs first, and the child needs to do well in school in order to have a successful future. It’s not fair for a child to have to play catch up in school the rest of his/her life because of the fact that their education was neglected. Schools should have the sole responsibilty of educating children, parents need to be active members as well.
    Our schools or churches could reach out in ministry to respond to these needs around us by having before school and after school programs in which the children can come in and get help with their homework and any other issues they make be having. If these children aren’t getting the support they need at home then schools and churches can start up programs that can help students academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. A support group is always a good way to make people feel welcomed and important. For children to know that there is always somewhere where they can go to seek help can make a huge difference in their lives. Also, schools and churches should continue to support after school events, clubs, and sports. These are great opportunities for children to get involved in the community. This is important because having something that they look forward to doing after school will encourage them to stay focused in their studies. I like the whole idea of students not being able to participate unless they have completed their assignments. This is a great motivation for students. Also, it will help teach children time-management skills which can help them in completing homework and helping out in their homes. Another great thing about students being involved with after school activities is that they won’t be watching as much t.v., which was a huge factor in low academic achievement.

  2. Ella Tempelman

    Like the artical said, many things gong on at home can make a differance on a child’s test scores. I think the goverment should take this into consideration when making laws like No Child Left Behind. I also think that there are many things we can do as a school and christian community to help families in tough situations.. As a church we need to make ourselves available to help people in the situations listed in the artical. If you know a child goes home to an empty house, offer to babysit if it is possible or set them up with somebody who can. If a family is in a hard finacial situation set up a fundraiser at the church to help out with bills. Let them know of job opportuities. As teachers, it is important to make sure we provide the encouragement and accedemic help that may not be available at home for one reason or another. Take the time after or before class to give extra help with homework. Be sure to praise the child when they do good work or show good behavior. Make sure that the child know even if their parents aren’t monitoring how they are doing in school, you are and you want them to do their work to the best of their ability. You want them to grow. You want them to get the good grade.

  3. Lisa Brearley

    As Educators, I think we need to stress the importance of the ties to home and school to the parents. This can be done through newsletters, parent-teacher meetings, and in the work that get sent home with the kids. It is very important that you stress how what goes on at home affects the students lives at school to the parents. Granted, parents may not always listen or care, but it is important to let the parents see the link between home and school and also show them how what goes on at home affects the child’s intellectual and social development. We need to do the best we can to get the message out, but we also need to instill positive behavior outside of school in our students as well. We should encourage and assign more reading which will cut down television watching, and will help the students stay focused on school amidst the issues going on around them. If a parent is not able to help the child, or be there for the child, some sort of after school programing or tutoring should be set up to give the kids a safe place to be where they can get the help they need. I think this is where churches, schools, and other ministries come into the picture. They are the places that can provide a safe environment for the kids to learn and grow. A place where they can get love and support they wouldn’t otherwise get at home. A big problem is that kids go home to an empty home, and its not safe and beneficial to the kids, and so there needs to be an after school program to prevent that.

  4. Ashley Leonhardt

    Everyone enrolled in this class has hopes of becoming a teacher and being a teacher we have to remember that the home life of our students is something beyond our control. We cannot go into the home of one of our students and tell their parents that they need to be doing A B and C in order for their child to be ready for the upcoming school year. What we can do as teachers is make sure that our student is learning not only the subject matter, but learning to be passionate about that subject matter. We cannot change the home life of our students, but we can change the way the student feels about school. I feel a passionate, energized teacher can stimulate the minds of his or her students and those excited minds can take the information they learn in the classroom home with them. Hopefully, this information can show the parents at home that yes, their child is learning in the classroom and it is up to them to take it beyond the classroom by spending time with their child.
    It is true we live in a broken world, the article states that only 68% of students live with both of their parents, but as Christians it is our job to show the love of Christ to everyone, not only our Christian community. I plan on teaching in a public school setting and many ask me “Well, why would you want to do that? You can’t proclaim your faith there.” This is far from the truth. Proclaiming our faith is more than telling people about the Gospel. It is showing people the Gospel through your actions. I like Ella’s response when she said a teacher can take time out of his or her day to help the student with their homework after school. It is those small acts that can really impact a student and get them eager for the next day of class. Taking it step by step and showing passion for your students is the best way to let them know that you care how well they do. You want them to succeed and showing them your passion is the best way to do that.

  5. Michelle Voss

    As teachers, we need to realize that we do a lot of the teaching at school and need to maximize that time we have with our students. Yes, the students still learn outside of our classroom, but we can’t influence how they learn or what they learn. It is really hard for teachers because they can’t tell parents what to do or how to raise thier children. As it has already been said, a passionate, energetic teacher will make a difference in a student’s life. Teachers can encourage families to help thier children with thier learning, but if it can’t happen, then it doesn’t. Teachers should also try to give homework that does not need much parental supervision or help so that they child will still do his or her lesson. If the child likes a subject so much and is passionate about it, hopefully that enthusiasm will spread into the home and the family/parents will see it and encourage the chidl to keep learning and doing his or her best. It should also be recommended to parents from the beginning that reading and talking to your children everyday will help expand their vocabulary alot and give them a good start for school when they do start kindergarten.
    For students who need help or are struggling, they should be able to get help whether it is from the teacher before or after school or from a tutor. Getting help is highly recommended and influencial because then a child will not fall behind in classes and school work. If the school can’t provide a tutor or afterschool program for the students, then the church or park district should provide a safe environment for kids to go to in order to do homework, get help, and just be out of the streets.
    As Christians, we need to show our love and support to our students through everything we do, especially through our actions. Actions speak louder than words. As Ashley said, she can still make a difference in a public school because her actions will say something on acount of her. It is nice to be able to teach in a Christian setting and being able to tell/teach the Bible stories, but it is not all necessary to share the gospel.

  6. Laurie Wiltjer

    I agree that parents are the most important factor in a child’s well-being in and out of school. There are many obstacles that parents, especially single parents have to overcome to have their children succeed. Not having the time to help your child do their homework is difficult. Children need parents to help them with school and parents need to know what their children are doing in school.

    A definite solution to the problem of students not doing well in school because of homework is to have them go into after school care programs. I am currently employed at an after school care program and we help them with their homework. The teacher’s make sure that each student finishes the homework that they were assigned and that they understand the topic being covered. Many parents are very thankful for this service. They do not have the time or energy to work on homework for an hour with their children after they get home from a long day of work. Other parents choose to have their children in the after school care but still tell them to save thier homework for home so they can help their children. It really is a matter of time and of preference. Teachers can also help students complete work after school or during breaks if the help is needed.

    This is just a small step to helping children do better in school and to potentially improve test scores. Parents still need to be a part of their children’s academic lives.

  7. Jamie Blauw

    Parents play a vital role in a childs life. This article pretty much proves that point. Therefore, parents need to be more aware of this fact. They need to be aware that children should be read to at an early age and that they should not be watching too much tv. I don’t think that any parent really wants there child to be left behind or to be playing ‘catch-up’ all throughout their school years; but they may not know how or what to do about it. If educators point this fact out to more parents, they may understand and implement a few activities at home to help their children.
    It is true that teachers have a responsibility to teach the children, but it is also part of a parents role to teach their child as well.
    I understand that it may be hard for a single parent to do some of these things, and that is where friends, family, churches, and the community should get involved and help as well as the schools. Teachers can try and help that student with homework during some free time or before or after school, there could be after school programs of some sort at the school or even at the churches. People in the community, or friends could also help look after the child/children and help to set a good example for them.
    I believe that students need to be around people who set good examples so that they learn from it. People learn a lot just from watching those around them, and I think some people tend to forget about that. I think one of the most important things that Christian teachers can do is to just show that student that we care about them, that we love them. Show God’s love to all.

  8. Nicole Urbaniak

    I believe that parents play a very important role in a child’s life. After all, parents are the ones that the child usually see’s on a daily basis. Role modeling is a very important role for the parent or parents. For the first couple years or more of a child’s life they usually learn from example and watching what their parents do. Usually they want to be whatever their parent is when they grow up. As a teacher I would hand out a packet on ways to try and help the child learn and have it talk about how important school is. I would encourage the parents to find a little time to just sit down and read with their child. I grew up loving to read because each night my mom would make me read and would get me excited about it. I thought that reading was like watching television and that I got to spend time with my mom made it even better. I know that in these days it is hard for parents or single parents to give the child what he or she needs. Although, if they can just take out a little bit of time each day to help them learn and just to be with them I think it can make a big difference. I think churches and ministries can even help out by passing out information. They can get volunteers to sign up and make a reading night and maybe even make homework night. This way if the parents can not find time then the kids still have somewhere to go to learn to enjoy reading and get the help they need with homework. In all, I think as being a teacher, the most we can do is help these students to love learning. It is our job to encourage them and give them the extra boost that they might not always get at home. Hopefully, between teachers help and parents being aware, we can give our students and adults of our future the help they need.

  9. Leanne Visser

    As a future teacher I want to let my student’s parents know that their home life can play a huge role in their child’s academics. This connection between school and home can be given through a meeting at the beginning of the year for the student’s parents, or a newsletter that is sent home with the students. A way to get home and school interacted with each other is sending homework home for the students to do and have their parents sign it, to show that they saw or helped their child with their homework. Parents can sometimes be oblivious that home life can be an affect of how their child does in school academically and socially. I know that as a teacher you will not be able to change your student’s home life but you can help them gain a positive attitude towards school and show them how class with benefit them down the road. In the New York Times article it tells us that one of the four variables that is out of the schools control is television watching. A way that teachers can get students to cut down on television watching, is assigning more reading for the students to do at night. As a parent you need to make sure that you also read to your child. Children from professional families her 35 million more words than children do with parents on welfare. As a parent you need to make sure that your child is not absent because then your child is not getting educated and that is not the teachers it is yours. Missing days here and there of class puts your child behind the other children that have been showing up faithfully. In addition I can see where a single parent home can be hard, but as a parent you need to put your child’s needs first. Maybe you will have to ask your parents or friend to help taking care of your child, but making sure that they have the time to help your child with their homework. This where churches, and communities should step in and set up a tutoring or after school program for your child to go to. Churches and communities can raise money to pay for bills and helpers, but going to one of these places is better than having a student going home to an empty house and sitting in front of a television doing nothing that will help them academically. As the teacher I will also offer myself to show up early or stay after school to help them if they have any questions. It is important that you praise your students because they might not be getting it at home, and you want your student to feel like they are doing well in school. The education for a child has a big impact on the student’s family and the lifestyle they lead at home. I want to get the word out to parents’ that home life and school are connected to each other, and that I am open to help out any way that I can to help their child be successful.

  10. Lauren Fisher

    As future teachers I believe we need to be aware of the importance in the home and school life of our students. Even though we can’t control our student’s home lives, I would at least try to inform the parents of my students that their lives at home will also have a great affect how they act in school. I would make sure that every parent will receive a packet on a weekly basis about their child’s progress whether it’s completed through reminders, parent-teacher meetings, or in the homework that gets graded and sent home with students. I will have to understand that parents may not always listen, but it is important to inform the parents and have them be aware that their home life will affect their child’s behavior at school We need to focus on what happens to our students outside of the classroom as well. We need to try and limit television watching and give our students confidence about focusing on school work or reading a book. I understand that parents get caught up in work and might not be able to help their child on a day to day basis, but they can find a dependable person that can help their child, whether it’s receiving help with homework after school or attending an activity that the child enjoys being involved in. I believe that schools and churches have daily after school activities that children can become a member of. Some children don’t have the safe living environment to go home to; and often at times a child might feel neglected, but if we have school activities or church youth groups after school then we can prevent a child from going home to an unsafe environment.

  11. Caryn Aggen

    I believe that these statistics are very important for families to know to nurture their students. Parents need to know that their lifestyle and the things they do have a direct imact on their children. It is very understanding that single parents have a limited time at home with their children and spend countless hours outside of their home working to make a good living for their kids, but the impact of this needs to be stressed not only them, but also to parents of every type of family. Parents also need to be told the impact of television their young students’ minds. If they were to take those extra hours of watching T.V. and apply it to doing their homework or reading that book for fun, it could raise their grades in school and expand their knowledge base. It is also really good for parents to read with their children. As kids get older it is harder to sit down and read with them, but it may be of great benefit to read the same book as their kids and discuss it at dinner. Many families sit together at night and watch television, but maybe talking about a good book might be a good alternative. It could also be fun to have a reading contest at school in which students have a contest to see who can do more recreational reading and get prizes for doing so!

  12. Joseph Lerner

    I would first like to apologize to anyone who is offended by my following comments, but I thought this article was pointless and a waste of time. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this topic is unimportant, because we all know that parents playing a role in the student’s education is immensely important. But what I am saying is that this article does an ineffective job of relaying that message. When I was reading this article, I couldn’t help but get engulfed by all the numbers and figures they were throwing at me. I felt like I was back in math class as they were shooting percentages past me one way and statistics were coming at me another. I was getting so bogged down by all these figures that I forgot what it was they were trying to prove to me. There were just too many numbers to grasp a hold of, and I LOVE numbers (being a mathematician by trade).

    Another thing that bothered me was that most of the studies that they did gave results that I would have to say is fairly common knowledge. I mean think about all the time and effort and money that had to go into these studies to prove that surprise, surprise students who watch TV for five hours a day tend to be behind in school. Or how about the fact that students who are absent a lot also tend to be behind; I mean come on, is that really a surprising fact to anyone. Even my dad could have figured that one out and he doesn’t even have a PhD like I’m guess most of the people who performed these experiment do. And then all the percents they give about families who have one parent homes and the families who rely on daycare more. I thought it was all a little bit too much and not once do they offer a decent solution to this problem. There is no happy ending or optimistic view to leave the reader with. To be completely honest, I think that if they spent less time trying to find out what percent of white eighth graders spend at least four hours in front of the TV and more effort on actually solving this problem, things would begin to look a little brighter.

  13. Amanda Schuler

    This article is a shocking one. However, it is a great reminder that each student, just like every one in the working world, come into class from a different background and and varried experiences.
    As a future teacher this article has opened my eyes. I knew that my students were all going to be comming to me with different needs and styles of learning but this really puts it in perspective.
    Some day I am going to have a classroom full of students who are under my care and it is my responsablity to give them the best education I possibly can. I am going to tech my students to the best of my ability what they need to know to prepare to have a successful academic careeer and life career. However, this article opens my eyes to the fact that students, and myself, do not do all their learning in the classroom. It is important for me to encourage my students and their parents to read together, to interact with one another on a philosophical/higher level of thinkig.
    If we stimulate our students to get involved in the world around them, to learn about current events and politics we are doing them so much good. Anything to get students away from the television and into books and newspapers is a great thing!

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