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Parenting influences kids’ academic success


Parenting influences the success of African American boys as they transition from preschool to kindergarten, according to a new study.


Parenting influences the success of African American boys as they transition from preschool to kindergarten, according to a new study.

Researchers from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute looked at the characteristics of 700 African American boys and the practices of their parents.

They identified 4 patterns. They found that just over half the boys (51%) demonstrated increases in language, reading, and math scores in kindergarten. About 1 in 5 (19%) were low achievers in preschool who declined even further academically after transitioning to kindergarten. About 11% were early achievers in preschool who declined in kindergarten both academically and behaviorally, and another 20% comprised a group of early achievers in preschool who continued to perform highly both academically and socially after the transition to kindergarten.

The researchers found that the children who continued to do well in kindergarten generally came from homes where their mothers engaged in literacy activities and intentional teaching. The moms did things such as play games with the children and take them on errands. The study showed that parent-child interactions influenced whether the boys stayed on a high-achieving course.

Those boys who started out as high achievers but then declined tended to be from homes with inattentive parents. These boys also tended to develop an increase in aggression during the transition from preschool to kindergarten.

The researchers also found that family socioeconomic status plays a role, with higher income and higher maternal education level being associated with the early achiever groups.

The investigators note that programs such as Head Start with their focus on parenting processes, early childhood care, and education programming can make a tremendous difference for African American children by setting them on the right path.



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Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, editor in chief, Contemporary Pediatrics, professor of pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, pediatric infectious diseases attending, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago
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