Does family size affect student performance?Do you believe family size effects students performance and why?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A contradicting conclusion, based upon NAEP scores, is presented in the Rand study Student Achievement and the Changing American Family conducted byresearchers David W. Grissmer, Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Mark Berends and Stephanie Williamson. Their study shows, across national testing of all students, that children in families of more than 2 children have significantly lower test results. Test results are significantly higher for children of mothers with more education--across all groups (not just minority and impoverished groups)--and with only 1 or 2 children.

These results show there is a distinct disadvantage accrued to academic achievement for families of many children opposed to a distinct advantage for families of 1 to 2 children. Those whose personal experience contradicts this must suppose that achievement may have been even higher in a smaller family or that one of the familial factors examined in the Rand study was skewed in their favor. Two of these advantageous factors are income/nutrition and the parent's education and employment. Test results were based on impersonal, averaged NAEP scores. The researchers declined to use SAT as they are skewed in favor of college-bound students, of necessity students who are academic achievers.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many studies, such as Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol, have focused on serious factors like poverty and race which influence student performance in the classroom.  When considering all the important factors that impact overall student performance, family size would rank lower on the most influential factors list.  Certainly aspects of family size could have both possible negative and positive impacts.  For example, one positive outcome of a large family size would be having more older siblings to help the younger siblings with homework and potential tutoring needs.  Moreover, larger families would have more overall experience within the school system and therefore might have more knowledge and know-how of how to influence student performance positively.  On the down side, larger families could possibly have a negative impact in terms of having to divide parental attention between children; funds would also be tighter in larger families, which might mean less extra money for private lessons, tutors, or summer enrichment programs.

mizzwillie eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Coming from a family with 8 children where all but the oldest two have college degrees or masters degrees, I would say no.  I think the size of the family is not as important as the importance of an education as a family value.  The older ones really helped raise the younger ones, and it was understood that education was very important for everyone in the family.  As kids, we all helped each other figure out homework or mom would help with any subject except math which was my brother's strength. All of us went to some kind of education beyond high school; it was simply expected that we would want to.  When I received my grant for financial aid, my older sister was there and said that if I could get a grant, so could she.  So we went to school sort of together.  The government was also willing to invest in students which I have repaid many times and wish was available for students now who come from poor families as I did. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a lot of generalizing going on here.  What matters is not the size of the family but how well it functions.  Small families can be dysfunctional.  Is a single mother with one child going to do better automatically than a family with three or four kids?

However, more children does matter when the family has limited economic resources.

"It's easier for parents to increase the total amount of time they spend with their children than it is to increase their economic resources," Downey said. (see second link)

It's true that a family with fewer economic resources will be taxed with having too many kids.  There will not be enough money to spend on tutors, lessons, school supplies and so on.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I do not believe that family size does affect student performance.  It may well be that some children from large families to less well in school than children from smaller families, but it is not clear that the family size is the most important variable. 

In theory, larger families mean that parents have less time to spend with their children.  Some might claim that this will make the kids less likely to do well in school.  But I would argue that even kids in a large family can do fine as long as the parents care enough to monitor the kids’ performance in school.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree that family size does not affect student performance. I would suggest that a family's interest in education has a far greater impact. That said, sometimes people, regardless of a family's interest, fail to find their own interest in academic performance.

luiji | Student

Coming from a family of 9, I can thankfully say, that no, it doesn't have any affect on our school. If anything, it helps. I can use all my two older brother's assignments as examples for my own assignments, and my younger 3 brothers, and sister can use my work. I can give my younger siblings hints about what to expect, because they're only a few years behind me.

I mean, it's all good and well parents telling their only child that when they were in school, such and such happened because of such and such, so watch out that it doesn't happen again, but that was 20 plus years ago.

I think the only problem with having such a large family is the financial side of it. It costs a lot to send 7 kids to school, provide them with all the equipment, and have enough computers so that we can all be doing our homework on time, but I guess that's part of life.