How Can Parents Influence their Child’s Learning Outcomes?

Parents are tasked with guiding their children towards a bright future, but what influence can they have on their child’s learning outcomes?

From their first words to their final exams, a child’s learning journey is studded with achievements, experiences and milestones that parents watch with unwavering pride. But alongside the joy, parents can often find this journey a challenging one, as they want to do their best to guide their child towards the brightest future possible. Worry often creeps in at the earliest milestones, and before you know it, you’re concerned that you’re not doing enough at home or that your decisions about your child’s education won’t be the right ones. Research tells us that parents play an integral role in the educational outcomes of their children and luckily there’s a lot of simple things you can do to have a positive impact. 

Encourage a love of learning

Creating a home environment that values and encourages learning is the first step towards engaged and curious learners. Research shows that parents who express positivity about school, engage in conversations about the importance of education, and instil a sense of curiosity can significantly impact their child’s attitude towards learning,  resulting in higher attendance rates and levels of academic achievement.

It can be as simple as asking your child about their day at school or taking an active interest in their projects, homework or topics they’re learning in class. Attending parent teacher interviews are also a great way to show interest and understand how you can support learning at home. 

Mindset matters

The concept of mindset, as popularised by psychologist Carol Dweck, emphasises the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—a growth mindset. Parents play a pivotal role in shaping their child’s mindset. Encouraging a growth mindset can foster resilience and a willingness to embrace challenges. It also shows children that learning isn’t just about right and wrong answers, it’s about the journey of understanding a new concept. Because it’s often on this journey that true learning happens. 

Research has found that the children of parents who demonstrate a growth mindset will show greater persistence. In fact, one study found a positive association between a child’s reading skills and their parents’ growth mindset. Focus on emphasising the importance of effort, perseverance, and learning from mistakes to develop a growth-oriented mindset in your children.

Balancing expectations

Parental expectations can be a double-edged sword. While setting high expectations can motivate a child to strive for excellence, unrealistic or excessively demanding expectations may have detrimental effects. Striking the right balance is key.

Research suggests that moderate parental expectations, combined with support and involvement, contribute to positive academic outcomes. This underscores the importance of maintaining an encouraging atmosphere without undue pressure.

Encourage your child to aim high, but let them know that mistakes are a part of the learning process. Creating an environment where effort is celebrated regardless of immediate outcomes contributes to resilience and a positive mindset. 

Read, then read some more

Research shows that early exposure to reading at home positively influences literacy development, but also helps develop a child’s imagination and expands their understanding of the world. 

Establish a bedtime reading routine, provide access to a variety of books and visit your local library. Not only will these activities enhance literacy skills, they will also instil a love of learning and curiosity in a diverse range of topics. 

Collaborate with teachers

A collaborative relationship between teachers and parents has been shown to enhance student achievement. When you communicate regularly with your child’s teacher you can understand where they might be struggling and where their interests lie so you can support them to catch-up or extend their knowledge at home. Supported by a positive learning environment, this collaboration can keep your child engaged in their learning and enhance their confidence in the classroom. 

Practice makes perfect

Practice isn’t just for the soccer pitch. It can improve a child’s knowledge and skills in a variety of areas, including academic subjects. When practice is deliberate (and not rote learning through repetition) the understanding gained can be applied to more complex situations or developed into more complex knowledge and skills. 

Research shows that regular practice can:

  • Increase the likelihood children will retain information long-term
  • Help with automaticity – where students apply their knowledge automatically, without having to think 
  • Help students transfer their skills and knowledge to more complex problems
  • Grow student’s skills and increase their motivation to learn more

Studies have found that practice is most effective when it is engaging for students and when it takes into account their existing knowledge so they can feel successful as they practise. One way parents can support this at home is through a program like Reflective Learning Australia. The program helps kids practise their literacy and numeracy skills through personalised learning content designed to keep them engaged. Each child starts off with  a comprehensive diagnostic that identifies learning gaps and levels to deliver content that fits individual learning needs, with the right amount of gamification to keep them interested.

From the moment your child comes into the world, you’re supporting their learning. While it can feel like a lot of pressure at times, rest assured that there are lots of things you can do that will make a big impact!

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