One chapter in the book, The Smartest Kids in the World And How They Got That Way, analyzes parenting styles and their effect on their children’s academic success. Inn 2009, the developer of the international PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) convinced thirteen countries to include parents in the assessment. Five thousand students gave their parents the survey, which presented questions regarding their involvement in their offsprings’ education from early childhood.
The researchers were perplexed by the results. They indicated that parents who volunteered in their children’s extracurricular activities “had children who performed worse in reading, on average, than parents who did not volunteer, even after controlling for other factors like socioeconomic background.” Of the countries involved in the study, only two (Denmark and New Zealand) demonstrated any positive impact on academic scores. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that previous research in the US substantiated their findings.
Could the explanation be that the active parents were over-compensating for their children’s academic struggles? The researchers questioned whether “coaching basketball and running school auctions left less energy for the kinds of actions that did help kids learn.” As I discussed in a previous article, the one behavior that had a considerable effect on a child’s academic success was reading at home.
The author goes on to provide a distinction between two very different parenting styles: the PTA parent and the coach. Many American parents are much more concered with their children’s self-esteem than their counterparts around the globe. They tend to consider them fragile and in need of constant reassurance. They provide a great deal of praise, some unwarranted, for small tasks. Yet the only effective praise needs to be “specific, authentic, and rare.” They attend PTA meetings, manage LIttle League, and bake cookies for school functions. While these activities are well-intended, they actually take time away from academic pursuits.
On the other hand, Asian parents act more like coaches. They view their children as strong and resilient, so they push them to work harder. They teach them to add before they can read. They quiz them on multiplication tables and other subjects at night. Asian children understand that their parents expect them to strive. ”The research showed that European-American parents who acted more like coaches tended to raise smarter kids, too.”
Which type of parent are you?