When a child misbehaves or fails to meet expectations at school, the child’s home and family life should be considered. Several family factors can affect a child’s behavior and ability to perform in the classroom. These include economic stability, changes in family relationships, parental attitudes toward education and incidents of child abuse.
Poverty can affect school readiness in several ways. Children from lower-income homes often experience a lack of parental consistency, a frequent change in part-time caregivers, a lack of supervision, poor nutrition and poor role-modeling. According to a 2007 article titled "The Impact of Poverty on Educational Outcomes for Children" in the journal "Pediatric Child Health," studies show that children from impoverished families tend to score lower in communication and vocabulary skills, knowledge of numbers, ability to copy and recognize symbols, concentration, and teamwork and cooperative play. Research conducted by the Society for Research in Child Development also found that children from low-income families received less positive parenting and had higher levels of cortisol, which has been associated with lower levels of cognitive development.
Changes in Family Relationships
Divorce has long been linked to behavior problems, anxiety and depression in children. This is often because single-parent homes feature parents struggling with their own feelings of depression and anxiety, accomplishing household responsibilities previously held by two people and meeting more financial demands. Single parents often must take on more hours at work to meet financial responsibilities, which can lead to children feeling neglected and acting out, and cause them to experience the effects of economic instability mentioned above.
However, according to Priscila Comino, a researcher at the University of the Basque Country, it is not the divorce itself that affects children's behavior so much as it is the way that parents handle the divorce. In cases where both parents mutually decided on the divorce and choose to co-parent, both making decisions and providing for the child, the negative effects of divorce are lessened.
Parental Attitudes Toward Education
Children learn first by mimicking behavior they see modeled for them. According to a 2009 article published in on the website of the National Center for Biotechnology Information, studies show a positive correlation between the parents' level of education and their child’s attitudes toward academic achievement. Children who have parents who encourage academic success are more likely to develop their own aspirations for higher education. In this way, parent education is a good predictor of a child’s academic success.
Child abuse can happen by way of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse or substance abuse in the home. According to KidsHealth.org, victims of child abuse are known to be at high risk for engaging in risky behaviors and acting out in school. They might have problems socializing with other children and adults and completing or focusing on assignments.
- National Library of Medicine: The Impact of Poverty on Educational Outcomes for Children
- EurekAlert.org: Poverty-Related Stress Affects Readiness for School
- KidsHealth.org: Child Abuse
- EurekAlert.org: Divorce in Itself Does Not Pose a Risk for Children
- National Library of Medicine: Long-term Effects of Parents’ Education on Children’s Educational and Occupational Success