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How Critical is Parental Involvement in Early Childhood Cognitive Development?
Felicia Martinez
Wayland Baptist University

RSWR 3345

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Dr. J. Jeffrey Tillman



Early childhood cognitive development is the aspect which determines a child success in life and in their academic performance. It also helps in controlling the emotions and behaviors of a child. Cognitive development in early childhood is very much dependence on parent involvement and support to their children. Parent involvement will make children increase the rate of cognition and succeed in aspects such as academic achievement. Parent involvement is very critical in such a way that, if a child lacks it, his or her cognitive development is challenged, and their academic achievement is also poor. The other aspect which shows how critical the aspect of parent involvement in early childhood cognitive development is that, if a child lacks parent involvement at the early childhood development stage, parent involvement will have no effect in some of the child’s cognition development. Also, in their behaviors and in their emotions when they do try to get involved.

Keywords: cognitive development, childhood development, academic performance















Table of Content

                                I.            Abstract

                             II.            Early Childhood Development

A.     Academic Achievement

B.     Parental Expectations

                          III.            Results from Parental Involvement

                          IV.            Conclusion

                            V.            References

















Early Childhood Development

Early child development refers to the development which usually occurs to children from the time they are born until they reach the age of around five years. One of the early childhood developments includes cognitive development. This is when young children build skills such as numeracy, vocabulary, language and pre-reading. In early childhood, therefore, the cognitive development will involve the progressive building of learning skills which will involve thinking, memory and attention. These skills are very crucial in lives of children as they help them to be in a better position to process sensory information which enables them to eventually be able to understand cause and effect, make comparisons, remember and analyze information. Generally, cognitive in children can be referred to the emergence of the ability of a child to think and understand. It can also be referred to as intellectual development. Cognitive development in early childhood is usually dependent on various aspects. This means that there are some aspects which can make cognitive development in early childhood are slow or faster. One of such aspect includes early childhood trauma. Aspects such as trauma in early childhood may be caused by lack of good parental care. This shows that the aspect of parenthood is very crucial in determining the cognitive development in early childhood. In this study, I am going to look at how critical the aspect of parental involvement in early childhood is in cognitive development.

Academic Achievement

Many scholars have addressed various aspects which influence cognitive development of children in their early childhood development. According to Topor, Keane, Shelton and Calkins (2010), parent involvement is very crucial in early childhood cognitive development. One of the areas that they addressed is on academic achievement and parent involvement. According to them, parent plays a very crucial part in the achievement of their children. As such, the success of children academically does not depend on teachers alone rather, the combination of the teachers and parents. This implies that, if a child lacks parent involvement in the early childhood, he/she will also have a problem in cognitive development and they will end up failing in their education. Parents who usually involve themselves in supporting, talking and advising them about schooling help them avoid bad behaviors and focus more on education. The study shows that children from a supportive and concerned parent are usually likely to; attend school regularly, earn higher scores, consistently finish homework, adapt well in school and gain better social skills and therefore succeed and join post-secondary education. This is the opposite of hose children who lacks parent involvement (Allen and Cowdery, 2014). Another study shows that parent involves their children in education even before they join kindergarten usually influence their children future development greatly. This study shows that the children who are usually involved in education by parents before they join kindergarten are two times likely to succeed than those children who don’t. Parent involvement is considered as a crucial determinant of education achievement and is important.

Parental Expectations

Parent expectation is the other aspect that promotes children achievement in education, especially in their early elementary schools. This is because it is believed that there is a very close connection between parents and their children at this age. As such, parent involvement in their child’s academics will help them view the aspect of learning in a positive manner which will eventually enhance their cognitive development and make them achieve academically. To test on this, a study was conducted among children and parents. In the study, 365 children participant were selected with their respective caregiver. The sample was selected randomly including 17% Latino, 25% African American and 58% European American. The study was to be carried out at each point starting from grade one to grade five. In each stage, each parent was supposed to rate their academic expectation of their child. On the other hand, teachers also rated children learning behavior and the parent involvement. Children also rated their self-perception about their academic competence. This study confirmed that a bidirectional longitudinal association was evidence where a correlation was found between the academic expectation of the parent and academic outcome of their children. It was noted that children’s learning behavior is what was not understood in this association until the child reaches the third grade. During fourth and fifth grade, the children competence perception is what mediated (Loughlin-Presnal and Bierman, 2017). This study asserted that, when a parent expects their children to achieve more in their academic, they also get more involved. This involvement is what leads to cognitive development which in turn helps children excel in academic. This study also shows that parent involvement in more important to children cognition development in the early childhood than in later stages. This is because, this study shows that in during the first to third grade, children academic performance only relies on the learning behavior which comes because of parent involvement as opposed to grade four to five where children competence perception is evidence. Parent involvement is also what causes children to develop a positive competence perception.

Parent involvement is not only important in helping cognitive development rather, it also helps in matters to do with mental health and achievement of students in high schools. Mental health challenges are an aspect which has become common in most high school student today. This is where, student fail to achieve their academic goal in high school due to mental issues such as mental disorders (Esch et al, 2014). Some disorders which affect student are because of effects of early childhood trauma. The study shows that lack of parent involvement in early childhood development can cause the effect of such trauma to be felt even in these children adulthood (Cook et al, 2017).

Parental involvement is also very important in the education of the youth. This is because; parent involvement will facilitate the aspect of positive youth development. A study to find out the effect of parent involvement in the education of children in high schools was conducted. This study intended to test different areas of involvement including academic socialization, home-based socialization and school-based parent involvement. This research examined parent involvement with reference to the academic achievement of the children as well as depression. In the 10th grade, achievement was tested while in the eleventh-grade depression was tested. Apart from that, this study also tested the effect of adolescents’ outcome and it’s result of increasing of parent engagement in school. In this study, a total of 1056 participant between ages 15-17 were selected randomly. This study asserted that emotional functioning and academic improvement is very much influenced by parent involvement. As such, parent involvement is what determines mental health and academic success both indirectly and directly through emotional and behavioral engagement (Wang and Sheikh?Khalil, 2014).

Results from Parental Involvement

Human development and child health institute argue that parent involvement is very much important in determining a child’s social development and their academic achievement in elementary school. The study was carried out among children across 1st through 5th grade. In this study, 1364 children were involved. Linear modelling was done in a hierarchical manner to examine the maternal association with reference to the achievement of the student. This was done by use of teacher’s report of parent involvement and the children’s standardized scores. The result of this study suggests that parent involvement will only improve social skills and problem in behavior will decline. It did not find any connection between parent involvement and academic improvement (El Nokali, Bachman and Votruba-Drzal, 2010).

Young fathers and mothers are where adolescents get a child at a very early stage. In some cases, an adolescent may get children while still schooling. Children from these parents may lack sufficient parent involvement skills. In some cases, they will be brought up by grandparent as the mother continues with education. Apart from that, they may also lack father support since most adolescent’s part after having a child. This usually has implication in the development of such children since they usually lack parent involvement at the early stage of their development (Menendez et al, 2015). A research was carried out to find out the possible indirect and direct effects of early parent involvement on the aspect of involvement of parent and achievement of their children in education. The study was conducted among 390 students aged 2-5. This study suggested that those children with higher parent involvement at a very early age achieved more in education than those who received parent involvement at the later age in life. The study also shows that later involvement of the father yielded no effect in a child academic achievement. This study suggests that early parental involvement is what matters most in later children academic achievement (McBride et al, 2009).

Cheung and Pomerantz (2012) were certain that parent involvement is usually correlated with children academic achievement. They wanted to find why parent involvement helps in improving student academic achievement. As such, they conducted a study. In this study, they used a sample of 825 Chinese and American children with mean age of 12.73. These children parent’s involvement and multiple motivation dimensions were recorded in each student after every six months starting from their current grade until grade eight. Strategies of self-regulatory learning of children information were also obtained. The result of this study asserted that, the more the parent involvement, the more the achievement of their children. This study suggests that parent involvement provided motivation of their children for their own reasons. These motivations were the one responsible for enhancing children self-regulatory learning and better achievement. This means, at this age, parent motivation is what makes children develop self-regulatory learning. For example, if a parent gives a prize to his/her child due to academic achievement, this child will be motivated to do even better the next time. This study also concluded that parent involvement determines children academic progress.

Cyberbullying is one of the aspects that is affecting the life and academic achievement of many youths today. If a student is bullied, he or she will not be able to achieve in both life and academic. Since cyberbullying is brought by the improvement in technology, most parents and teachers may assume that this doesn’t happen to children. A study that was conducted among 41 primary school aged students suggests that cyberbullying has a very negative implication on students. The main purpose was to find out what was the characteristic of the bullies were. It found that among the aspect which leads to cyberbullying is gender role, traditional bullying as well as negative motivation. This means that children who are not motivated are the one more likely to be involved in cyberbullying. This shows the “effect of lacking parent involvement to the children during early childhood which lead to behavior decline” (Monks, Mahdavi and Rix, 2016).

In schools, academic achievement is also determined by the relationship between students and their teachers. In some cases, there might be evidence behavioral difficulties, emotional and social skills. For good academic achievement, there should the positive relationship between the two parties. A study was conducted in among 962 primary school students. The aim was to find what the predictor of student behavior and emotional difficulties were. Though this study found that there was a correlation between student behavior and emotional difficulties and teachers interpersonal behavior, data analysis of this study suggested that emotional and social skills of the student were the greatest determinants of their behaviors rather than teacher’s interpersonal behaviors. These results were interpreted using emotional learning theory as well as system perspective theory which argues that, behaviors of an individual is a result of the system he/she is developed from. One of the important systems is the family. This again shows the “importance of parent involvement which will help in shaping children’s behavior” (Poulou, 2015).

A child academic achievement depends on the relationship between the teachers and caregivers or the parent. People may think that a child academic achievement will only depend on the teachers. Studies suggest that parent involvement is very important especially during their early childhood development. The early pattern of engagement is what set the stage for long-term as well as the short time achievement in academic. As such, low engagement of teachers, parent and a student are very much important and determine a student achievement in later years. The study shows that the association of parent-teachers relationships with students in the elementary stage is very important. This study also suggested that this kind of association is transitory. This means that the relationship between the parent and their children prior their entry to elementary school will influence their behavior and emotional skills and how well they will cope with their teachers. Those students who encountered conflict prior to their entry to school also have had a hard time coping with teachers. The study also suggests that a problematic teacher can also hinder the academic achievement of a student. This shows the importance of good parent and teacher involvement in early childhood development. This is because; “a parent is the one who held a child even before he or she enters elementary school” (Heatly and Votruba-Drzal, 2017).

The partnership between teachers and parent is a very crucial aspect of the life of children as well as their wellbeing. The study shows that, by cooperation between teachers and parent, children will improve their behaviors as well as academic performance. There is different ways in which parent and teachers could cooperate in ensuring that children have good achievement in life and improve academically. One of such cooperation is where teachers’ give their children homework and parent ensure that their children complete those home work assignments. This kind of involvement will enable the children to take education with seriousness and they will eventually succeed. The other thing concerns behaviors of children. In some cases, children might have some strange behaviors which can affect their academic achievements. If a teacher notes any behavior change in a student, he/she should consider informing the parent. This will make them cooperate in rectifying this child behavior (McQueen and Hobbs, 2014).


It is with evidence that parent involvement is very important in determining the wellbeing as well as the academic achievement of their children. This is because, according to most studies that have been conducted shows that, by parent involvement in their children affairs, they make that succeed in education. On the other hand, study shows that the most important parent involvement of parent is during the early childhood development. This is because; this is the time when a child is getting a foundation for cognitive development. As such, this is the most crucial time that a child requires support to back up his/her cognitive development. This means implies that, the behaviors and emotions that a child develops in early childhood I what determine the rest of a child development and achievement including academic performance. If a child lack parent involvement in early childhood, parent involvement in the later stages of life might not have a lot of effect in changing the lives of a child. Parent involvement is also necessary even in the later stages of life. For example, it has been proved that parent involvement will help children have good behaviors in their adolescence as well as perform better academically. On the other hand, parent involvement also helps adolescent deal with mental challenges and disorders. The review of literature asserts that there is a very big connection between the parents and children cognition development, behaviors and success of children. This may account for the reason as to why children who lack parent intervention hardly succeed in life and they also involve themselves in awkward behaviors and problematic emotions and characters. Apart from that, they might also have some mental disorders and trauma. As such, the parent should consider giving their children support especially in their early childhood to help them in cognition development and helping them succeed.   



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Cook, A., Spinazzola, J., Ford, J., Lanktree, C., Blaustein, M., Cloitre, M., … & Mallah, K. (2017). Complex trauma in children and adolescents. Psychiatric annals, 35(5), 390-398.

El Nokali, N. E., Bachman, H. J., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2010). Parent involvement and children’s academic and social development in elementary school. Child             Development, 81, 988-1005.

Esch, P., Bocquet, V., Pull, C., Couffignal, S., Lehnert, T., Graas, M., … & Ansseau, M. (2014). The downward spiral of mental disorders and educational attainment: a systematic review on early school leaving. BMC psychiatry, 14(1), 237.

Heatly, M. C., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2017). Parent- and teacher-child relationships and engagement at school entry: Mediating, interactive, and transactional associations across contexts. Developmental Psychology, 53, 1042-1062. doi:10.1037/dev0000310

Loughlin-Presnal, J., & Bierman, K. L. (2017). How do parent expectations promote child academic achievement in early elementary school? A test of three mediators.             Developmental Psychology,    53(9), 1694-1708.

McBride, B. A., Dyer, W. J., Liu, Y., Brown, G. L., & Hong, S. (2009). The differential impact of early father and mother involvement on later student achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 498-508.

McQueen, C. c., & Hobbs, C. C. (2014). Working with parents: Using narrative therapy to work towards genuine partnership. Educational & Child Psychology, 31, 9-17.

Menendez, A., Branson, N., Lam, D., Ardington, C., & Leibbrandt, M. (2015). Revisiting the ‘crisis’ in teen births: What is the impact of teen births on young mothers and their children?. Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit.

Monks, C. P., Mahdavi, J., & Rix, K. (2016). The emergence of cyberbullying in childhood: Parent and teacher perspectives. Psicología Educativa, 22 (La ciberconducta y la psicologia Educativa: retos y riesgos Cyberbehavior and educational psychology:     challenges and risks), 39-48. doi:10.1016/j.pse.2016.02.002

Poulou, M. m. (2015). Teacher-student relationships, social and emotional skills, and emotional and behavioural difficulties. International Journal of Educational Psychology, 4, 84-108. doi:10.4471/ijep.2015.04

Topor, D. D., Keane, S. P., Shelton, T. L., & Calkins, S. s. (2010). Parent involvement and student academic performance: A multiple mediational analysis. Journal of Prevention       & Intervention in the Community, 38(3), 183-197.

Wang, M., & Sheikh?Khalil, S. (2014). Does parental involvement matter for student achievement and mental health in high school? Child Development, 85, 610-625.



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