Sociable parents, sociable kids … sociability is an academic asset

According to a study conducted by researchers of the University of Sheffield, children of sociable parents outperfom kids whose parents led more solitary lives in academics by one to four percentage points.

The study’s results sure put a lot pressure on us parents to shape up! Studies like these hark back to a couple of decades ago, when “Emotional Intelligence” (Daniel Goleman) became a catchphrase. I have to wonder about the study sampling size, and also about whether these inferences translate across cultural and ethnic differences. Apart from the age of school massacres, didn’t we use to have an image of child prodigies as coming from rather solitary environments? It also beats me why children of parents who do voluntary work or social committees should fare worse in vocabulary than kids of parents in sports clubs, unless (hazarding an uneducated guess here) the kind of activities such as volunteering and social committees consume such great amounts of time, taking a toll on quality evenings with children (eg. fewer bedtime readings) resulting in the lower accumulation rate of new vocabulary?

The second mystery is why sports clubs? Perhaps this is where theorists such as those of the Brain Gym category are proved right…where sports give kids such a great brain workout, the results are seen in tangible improvements in the area of academics as well…notwithstanding one study that said sports and exercise showed no benefits on the area of memory skills.

In other words, not only do kids have to all-rounders, but us parents have to measure up in all ways too!

Children of the chattering classes shine against their classmates
(from the weekend supplement of Daily Yomiuri)

Rosemary Bennett

Parents about to embark on a weekend of partying with their friends need no longer feel guilty that their children are missing out. Research has found that regardless of class, wealth or status, the children of parents with healthy social lives outperform other children at school.
Experts have always known that children with good social skills do better academically than those who lack them. But this study set out to establish whether the same was true if their parents were outgoing. Academics examined the social lives of 3,000 parents, finding out whether or not they were in sports clubs, voluntary or church groups, residents’ associations or other groups.
They also looked at how often the parents attended social gatherings and crucially, how many friends they had. This data was then compared with the scoreson standards literacy, numeracy and verbal tests on their chidlren at the age of five. The results show that children of sociable parents were between one and ofour percentage points ahead of classmates whose parents led more solitary lives.
The research, conducted by Professor Sarah Brown and Dr Karl Taylor, of the University of Sheffield, was presented at the Royal Economic Society’s annual conference.
Bethan Marshall, senior lecturer in education at King’s College London, said that previous research had shown that cheerful, upbeat parents talked to their children more, and in a more affirmative way, which appeared to help them do well in school.
The Sheffield researchers were able to identify which sort of social activity was most beneficial. Children whose parents belonged to sports clubs scored higher in reading, maths and vocabulary while those whose parents did voluntary work scored better in maths and reading only. Children whose parents were involved in school committees scored higher in reading and vocabulary.

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