The actual schooling process is not the only contributing factor leading to a child's learning and achievement. Although the academic environment is key, each child's individual home situation greatly impacts educational goals and progress. From family funds to parental support, home factors can make the difference between a child's success or failure.
Every parent has some form of expectations for their child's academic career. According to a study by the Harvard Family Research Project, parental expectations for childrens' school success can lead to a higher degree of achievement. Specifically, the expectation that children will eventually progress to postsecondary schooling leads indirectly to greater achievement because of the influence on the student's own self-expectations and time spent on actual schoolwork.
The parent-child relationship is a crucial home factor that influences the student's learning and achievement. Parents who are responsive to their child's needs and who use an authoritative approach can have a positive impact on success. An authoritative approach includes parenting in a style that is firm, yet warm. This may involve open discussion of problems, school issues and peer influences. Authoritative relationships can build strong bonds in which the child comes to understand the home rules surrounding behaviour, responsibilities and education. Additionally, children in positive parent-child relationships may have higher self-esteem, leading to a more advanced degree of scholastic achievement.
The National Center for Children in Poverty estimates that roughly 28.4 million children under the age of 18 in the U.S. live in low-income families. Family poverty can be a contributing factor in negative developmental and academic outcomes. Children growing up in poverty may suffer from more developmental delays and learning disabilities than children from higher income homes. This may impact overall learning and school achievement. Additionally, children from low-income homes are less likely than their higher income peers to complete high school or go on to a postsecondary education.
Television, computer and other media technology can greatly impact a child's ability to learn and achieve scholastic success. Technological factors can be a double edged sword in that many media items can result in increased educational outcomes, but at the same time can take time away from vital academic pursuits. The type of media and how it is regulated in the home can contribute the child's overall academic performance. The Kaiser Family Foundation states that children between eight and 18 typically use entertainment media over 53 hours total in a typical week. Parents who permit unlimited access to entertainment media such as video games and non-educational television shows may negatively impact their child's learning and achievement. On the other hand, parents who encourage educational media usage such as researching school paper topics on the Internet or using virtual math manipulatives can help their child's school performance.