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The Relationship Between the Family and Academic Achievement in Children

Familial Relationships and Development

Research is clear that relationships and experiences influence child and youth development [1]. Positive influencers on development include relationships and opportunities provided by families, schools, and communities [1], as well as internal characteristics, like values and commitments [1]. In this article, we explore the relationships between family and academic achievement. Over the next several articles, we will provide information about other important systems and characteristics that help children and youth develop in positive and healthy ways.

What Role Does the Family Play in Child Development?

Families play many roles in positive child development. One such factor is how often families eat dinner together. Frequency of family dinners are associated with support, boundaries and expectations, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity [2]. Children who engage in risky behaviours (like using substances and early sexual activity), have mental health concerns (like depression, suicidal behaviour, eating disorder), or engage in violence and antisocial behaviour, are more likely to report not having regular family dinners [2]. Family support and positive family communication are other factors that predict life satisfaction in adolescents [3]. Healthy communication and family dynamics can often be developed over regular mealtimes together, in turn leading to positive developmental indicators and decreasing risky behaviours.

Does the Family Influence Academic Achievement?

Research has shown that there is a positive correlation between parental involvement and academic achievement [4]. Specifically, the academic performance of children with high family involvement was found to be better than children who had low family involvement [4]. Moreover, parental encouragement and autonomy-supporting family styles were found to be associated with higher academic performance in children [5]. Therefore, parental involvement and the family dynamic appear to have an effect on a child’s academic achievement in school.

What Does This Mean?

Overall, the existing literature suggests that the family plays a key role in a child’s development, both within the school and the home. For instance, the higher the frequency of family dinners, the less likely a child is to engage in risky behaviours or have mental health concerns [2]. In addition, the family dynamic and relationships that children have with their parents and/or caregivers can influence a child’s academic achievement as well. Specifically, children who have parents who are involved, receive parental encouragement, and have autonomy-supporting families are more likely to perform better academically when compared to a child who does not have an involved and supportive family [4, 5].

The key takeaway? Make sure you schedule time into your busy schedule for quality and meaningful family interactions!

Blog post written by Kassandra Burk and Dr. Andrea Stelnicki.

Literature review prepared by Kassandra Burk.

*The information contained in this blog post is based on a narrative review of available literature. Some studies may have been unintentionally omitted. You are advised to speak with a healthcare professional to determine if the information is appropriate to your specific circumstances.*


[1] Search Institute. (2020). 40 Developmental Assets. Retrieved from

[2] Fulkerson, J. A., Story, M., Mellin, A., Leffert, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & French, S. A.

(2006). Family Dinner Meal Frequency and Adolescent Development: Relationships with

Developmental Assets and High-Risk Behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health.

[3] Soares, A. S., Pais-Ribeiro, J. L., & Silva, I. (2019). Developmental Assets Predictors of Life

Satisfaction in Adolescents. Frontiers in Psychology.

[4] Khajehpour, M., & Ghazvini, S. D. (2011). The role of parental involvement affect in children’s

academic performance. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences. Vol 10, 1204-1208.

[5] Ginsburg, G. S. & Bronstein, P. (1993). Family Factors Related to Children's

Intrinsic/Extrinsic Motivational Orientation and Academic Performance. Society for


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