Does Limiting Your Child’s Stress Boost School Performance?

As parents we are keen to help our children do well academically, and now the government believes some young people may do better at school if their carers have parenting lessons. This applies more if we have large families, or experience stress in the family, such as divorce.

Stressful events

A study by the University of London’s Institute for Education found that certain stress factors in the family can affect school performance. The researchers looked at the academic achievements of over 30,000 young people over a 20-year period. They investigated how well the pupils did at age seven and 14. The results found that children who had lots of brothers and sisters, a mother with depression, or a father who struggled with literacy skills fared less well on their Key Stage 1 assessments.

Watching television and higher levels of discipline were linked to increased misbehaviour and poorer verbal and maths skills. When the children reached the age of 14, they performed less well if their parents argued a lot, had got a divorce, or if they had moved school. Another factor for dips in school attainment was if the child concerned saw their siblings less than they used too. The Department for Education believe that these events can have long-term effects on children, so knowing how to manage them may boost their future wellbeing.

Lessons for parents?

Ofsted explained that the results show how some schools may come under pressure to manage children’s poor performance that it believes is rooted in the home environment. The body believes this puts schools in the role of surrogate parents, although this may soon change with the launch of a new scheme. The government has decided to trial parenting classes for up to 50,000 people. It aims to raise awareness of how to set boundaries for young people, as well as advice on communicating, managing conflict and effective discipline.

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