Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Expecting your children to make the grade

As mentioned before in this blog, my Mom told me that my job was to be a good student. She expected me to make excellent grades, and she was clear on her expectations. (Not Tiger Mother level of expectations, but her point was clear.) She told me I was smart; I believed her; I did well in school.

Granted, I worked really hard for my excellent grades, but my Mother's expectation that I would do well in school was certainly a factor. This article in Time does a nice job outlining new research which suggests parental expectations may have an influence on their children's achievements. In the study, researchers looked at the grade point averages for pairs of siblings (mixed genders and ages) and compared them against their parent's expectations. It turns out that the biggest factor to determine how well a child will do in the following school year is Mom and Dad's belief in which child was the better student.

Strangely, they found this to be true even when parental belief conflicted with actual results. "The smart child" remained "the smart one" to their parents, even if report card data showed they had a lower GPA then their sibling.

But, as a parent of multiple children, it has to be downright impossible to hide your true expectations toward your child's academic success. Children are just so tuned into their parents, that they are able to pick up on those expectations or which child is the favorite - even if those thoughts are never vocally expressed.

(Makes me thankful to just have one child.)

But, for parent of multiples, there is hope. You can praise your children academically, but be more specific with your praise. Maybe one child is better in math and another is a Spanish wiz. The key is to individualize the praise and make sure your children understand that you expect them all to do their best.

Were you considered "the smart one" in your family? If not, who was? Tell me in the comments.

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