For many teenagers, the idea of spending time hanging out with their parents is, well, just a little bit embarrassing. However, a recent study has shown that spending time with your mum or dad may actually improve your studies – or at least your desire to do well – especially at GCSE level. Those without a close emotional bond to their parents were twice as likely to feel their GCSEs were unimportant, and therefore we can only presume, are less likely to put in the effort and get the grades they could. The findings came from a study done by the University of Warwick, but it wasn’t just the amount of time spent with parents, but what you do together that is important…
The study took data collected by the University of Essex for 10,931 adolescents – asking about family, homework, friends, bullying, and more. While looking at the impact of activities like visiting art galleries, it was found that the more cultural the activities, the more likely the students were to value their academic studies.
While this didn’t translate directly over to a desire to attend university, it did indicate differences when it came to views about career choices after school.
Those teens who were not exposed to cultural activities were 14% less likely to see their GCSEs as important and 20% less likely to consider university important. On the other hand, those who went to museums, galleries, and concerts were 23% less likely to consider taking training or going straight to work after school.
Even if you’re not sure what you want to do after school, it seems that your interactions with your parents may tell you what you DON’T want! In fact, the impact of spending quality time with parents was found to be greater than homework clubs and other extra-curricular activities.
The research was led by Dr Dimitra Hartas, associate professor in the Centre for Education Studies, at the University of Warwick, and she explained, “Filial dynamics such as emotional closeness to parents and cultural capital were better predictors than more school-driven parent-child interactions.”
Basically, those teens who spent time with their parents were more likely to value education even than those who focussed strongly on schooling.
Of course, this was not the only factor that was found to come into play. Younger boys were found to be generally less-aspirational than slightly older boys or girls in general, while those who showed a tendency to solve problems were also more likely to have educational aspirations.
Conversely, those who were less confident at problem solving were found to be 30% less likely to rate GCSEs as important. Lower levels of wellbeing were also shown to make pupils 18% more likely to decide against university.
The results seem to show that there is a direct link between a desire to succeed educationally and wellbeing, emotional closeness in the home, and cultural capital.
As Dr. Hartas asserted, “These findings have significant implications for family and educational policy, especially with regard to ‘raising aspirations’ and reducing early school leaving. They also raise the issue of reconsidering the role of the home environment as a web of emotionally and intellectually charged relationships between parents and children rather than an extension of the school day.” She added, “Discussions on young people’s educational aspirations should not be polarised but informed by notions of opportunity and what young people make of it.”
It is perhaps understandable that exposure to more academically-inclined culture (such as museums) will lead to a greater desire to do well in school and aspire academically. However, it would be too simplistic to say that going to museum or art galleries with your parents will make you more likely to do well in your exams.
There are a variety of other things that could play a strong role, including peer pressure and socio-economic factors. Plus, let’s not forget the direct impact of parents advising teens on career choices.
That said, spending some quality time bonding with your parents and going somewhere that may expand your mind is rarely a bad thing!