How Your Parenting Style Affects The Way Your Child Learns

How Parental Style Affects Child Learning

Yesterday we went over some research that examined the way parental behavior affects your child’s attitude towards food.

Today there was an article in Time Magazine about home-schooling and learning outcomes:

The researchers studied 74 children aged 5 to 10 living in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick: 37 kids were schooled at home, and the other 37 attended local public schools. Each child was asked to complete standardized tests of reading, writing and math.

Researchers found that the public-school kids tested at or above their grade levels, but home-schooled children tested even higher than that — about a half-grade higher in math and 2.2 grades in reading, compared with the traditionally educated children.

Strict and Authoritative Parenting

The article then goes on to talk about how these results only hold if the parent is strict, which was the exact opposite of the findings of the studies on parenting and child diet patterns.

As it turns out, this finding is not an anomaly. Consider this study done in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology that studied parental styles and child achievement on math tests (emphasis added by me):

Study 2 replicated these findings with a larger sample and showed that individual differences in parental scaffolding were associated predictably with variations in the quality of children’s learning from a tutoring session. As well, authoritative parenting styles, measured independently, were positively related to more effective scaffolding styles, and to better mathematics achievement by children.

To be specific, authoritative parenting refers to parents who set strict rules for their children to follow and enforce punishments, but don’t micro-manage the minutaie of how their children think or perform tasks.


The correlation between authoritative parenting and positive learning outcomes is pretty solid but not without a few exceptions. Studies like this one are well-referenced and accepted to be true.  The overall benefits of authoritative parenting is that it instills discipline and a sense of responsibility, but still allows for a sense of curiousity and bravado in your child to explore the world around them.

So, maybe, the question of “friend or dictator” depends on a simple issue: carrots or math?

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