Institute of Education

Research & Expertise to Make a Difference in Education & Beyond

How Parental Attitudes to General Education Influence Children’s Extracurricular Outcomes

Earlier this fall, Stockholm, Sweden welcomed educational researchers, strategists and institutional leaders from across the globe for the Second WERA-IRN Conference on ‘Extended Education,’ a dimension of learning & development that embraces a vast array of practices and activities beyond the general curriculum that unfold both within and outside the regular school perimeter. IOE experts Sergey Kosaretsky and Mikhail Goshin took part in the forum to present about how different strategies of parental involvement in formal schooling impact the odds of children’s success in extracurriculars.   

The study presented by the IOE researchers testifies that particular patterns of how families engage in general education of their children are a major factor to frame the scope and nature of children’s involvement in extended education. Specifically, strategies of parental engagement determine whether a student will be more likely to succeed in various types of L&D that take place beyond the regular classroom, such as those offered by extracurricular clubs and centers.

The authors classify parents into ‘mentors,’ ‘liberals’ and ‘invisibles’ in accordance with the main features and attributes that shape their style of educational engagement. The ‘mentor’ approach is observed where parents are inclined to exercise rigorous control over every facet of children’s schooling. Parents who are described as ‘liberals’ are likely to espouse more of a neutral, non-intrusive approach that does not resort to any strict measures while affording children more freedom and flexibility. Last but not least, ‘invisible’ parents are those who only engage in their children’s education to a very little extent.        

The study suggests that the ‘liberal’ style of parental involvement has the strongest positive link with outcomes in the dimension of extended education, as children in such families typically record the highest completion rates for extracurriculars. By contrast, since ‘mentor’ parents are likely to force children into those out-of-school activities that they choose at their sole discretion, students from such backgrounds are more prone to extracurricular dropout. Finally, in families where the ‘invisible’ approach is practiced, children display the lowest outcomes in extended education because they tend to withdraw immediately as they run into first complications and failures.     

The ‘WERA-IRN Extended Education’ initiative is a global collaboration that aims to further more critical debate on various research, policy and practical perspectives in the domain of school and out-of-school extracurricular L&D.