What Sociological Factors Might Affect Academic Success for Middle School Children?

By JaimeR
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A child's academic success is affected by factors such as parental involvement and how the parents themselves appear as role models. According to French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, privilege is a major factor in academic success. Children who have been conditioned to behave in the manner that teachers expect from high achieving students tend to succeed. Socioeconomic factors play a role in a child's academic success, and many times these are directly related to how involved the parents are able to be in their child's life.

Economic Status of the Family

A family's economic status can have multiple influences on a child's academic life. Parents with more money have more resources and often more leisure time available, which potentially can offer their children an academic head start. Examples include out-of-school tutoring or access to better childcare programs. Affluent parents are likely to be well-educated, and educated parents tend to stress the importance of school to their children.

Number of Parental Figures

The academic effects of living in a single-parent family versus a dual-parent family are inconclusive. Studies from the 1970s tend to strongly favor a nuclear family environment, however, more recent studies have more varied conclusions. Drawbacks to a single-family home include limited time, as a single parent probably works and will have limited time available to help with homework and disciplinary problems. Recent studies, however, indicate that economic status may be a more significant factor than the number of parents.

Community Involvement

A student's access to a community of mentors and peers is a factor in academic success. Participation in community organizations such as sports and youth programs such as Boy and Girl Scouts can help a child develop self-esteem and social skills. Helping children build confidence encourages them to be assertive in class, and helps them feel that they can succeed when they take risks. The neighborhood and community where a child lives determines the social environment they grow up in.

Immigrant Families

Immigrants and children of immigrants can face unique challenges in school. A language barrier can be difficult socially and academically, and a child may fall behind due to an inability to communicate. The strength of the school in helping ESL (English as second language) students is a factor. If the parents face a language barrier, they may not be as able to be involved in their child's school career as they would like to be.