According to a fifteen-year study performed by researchers in the department of Family, Consumer, and Human Development at Utah State University, academic success can be predicted by the ways in which parents are involved with their toddlers at two years of age.
Researchers discovered that four types of interactions between parents and toddlers are linked to future academic success:
- Elaborating on words, actions, and pictures in books or on unique attributes or objects
- Relating book text or play activity to the experiences of the child
- Encouraging and engaging in pretend play
- Presenting activities in an organized sequence of steps
In the study that began in 1996, researchers examined the interactions between mothers and fathers with their two-year-old toddlers in 229 low-income families. The children’s academic success was then observed at age three and in the fifth grade.
By fifth grade, children whose parents, both mothers and fathers, interacted with them as toddlers at age two performed better in reading and math than children with less parental involvement.
Furthermore, in homes with both biological mothers and biological fathers, toddlers’ interactions with their biological fathers contributed more significantly to later academic success. As Gina Cook, a research assistant professor in the study, reiterates:
“Interestingly, when the biological father is living with the mother and child, mothers provide more cognitive stimulation to their toddlers, but it is the fathers in only these families who really add something more to their children’s early environments.”
As the researchers conclude, involvement from both parents is essential for a toddler’s future success academically.
What do you think the implications are of this study that links parental involvement to future positive academic outcomes?