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Children’s Reading and Math Skills: The Influence of Family Caring

By Robert Michael


The paper investigates the influence of two distinct family attributes on children’s test scores in reading and mathematics. One is the family’s resources – its income level, the parents’ education levels, own ability in reading and math, among others. The strong, well-documented relationship of family resources to children’s cognitive skills is confirmed in the two British data sets analyzed here. The other attribute is the parents’ “caring" for the child, the family’s habits regarding nurturing the children, the inclination to sacrifice in behalf of the children or to expend time and effort with the children. Measured by several behaviors during the pregnancy and the child’s early years, the study shows that these family habits of caring for their child are also strongly correlated with the child’s test scores in both reading and math, controlling for the family’s resources. The magnitude of the family caring relationship to the child’s test scores is nearly as strong as is the relationship of the parent’s education to the child’s test scores. Moreover, since the two data sets cover three generations of the same families, the study shows the strong cross-generational linkage in family caring behavior and in the relationship of grandparent caring of their child and the test scores of their grandchild

Publisher: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education, University of London
Year: 2008
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