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The Relation of Parents’ Involvement in Children’s Learning to Children’s Adjustment: A Quantitative Synthesis

Sat, March 23, 8:00 to 9:30am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 3, Room 329

Integrative Statement

Researchers have scrutinized the role that parents play in children’s education over the past several decades. Understanding parents’ role in their children’s education is complex due to the many ways that parents can become involved (Hill & Taylor, 2004; Pomerantz et al., 2012) and the various developmental and social contexts in which parent involvement occurs. The present quantitative synthesis sought to consolidate existing research to comprehensively examine the relation between parents’ academic involvement and multiple dimensions of children’s psychological adjustment across development. A key aim was to shed light on potential moderators of the relation (e.g., is one type of involvement more effective than another at a particular developmental stage).

We used four major databases to search the literature with the search terms, parent(s), school, involvement, academic(s), and homework through 2016. Sources were coded for the type of parents involvement. This included involvement at school (e.g., attending parent-teacher conferences, volunteering) and at home, which we further divided into additional categories (i.e., cognitive-intellectual involvement, discussion and encouragement, and homework involvement). We coded three dimensions of children’s academic adjustment (i.e., achievement, engagement, and motivation) and three dimensions of their non-academic adjustment (i.e., social, emotional, and delinquency). Children’s developmental stage and ethnicity and family socioeconomic status were also coded as was time between assessments. The correlation between involvement and children’s adjustment was recorded.

We conducted several meta-analyses using Hunter and Schmidt’s (2004) methods, which correct for measurement error. Analyses incorporated 436 independent studies including 491,513 families to reveal small positive associations (rs = .13 to .23) between parents’ involvement and children’s academic adjustment (i.e., achievement, engagement, and motivation) that were maintained over time. Parents’ involvement was also positively related to children’s social (r = .12) and emotional adjustment (r = .17) and negatively related to their delinquency (r = -.15). Analyses focusing on children’s academic adjustment revealed similar associations between different types of involvement (e.g., parents’ participation in school events and discussion of school with children) and adjustment. The one exception was that parents’ homework assistance was negatively associated with children’s achievement (r = -.15), but not engagement (r = .07) or motivation (r = .05). The relation between different types of involvement and children’s academic adjustment was generally similar across ages (see Figure 1), ethnicity (see Figure 2), and socioeconomic status, with only a few exceptions. For example, the effect for school involvement was smallest for high school students.

With few exceptions, parents’ involvement on the school and home fronts exhibited small to moderate positive associations with children’s academic adjustment (i.e., achievement, engagement, and motivation). Moreover, parents’ involvement on both these fronts had similar sized relations with children’s non-academic adjustment, appearing to buffer children against social and emotional problems as well as delinquency. The association between parents’ involvement and children’s adjustment appears to remain stable over time suggesting that its effect does not dissipate. Overall, the findings support the idea of parents’ involvement in children’s learning as a critical ingredient in children’s adjustment in the academic arena and beyond.

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