Good parenting fosters a child's development in the new normal

Education | 3 May 2021

A study conducted by The University of Hong Kong (HKU) reveals that good parental communication and relationships with children facilitate their well-being in school and at home in the new normal.  

Online learning has become a new normal for education under the pandemic. While some parents worry that this new approach may hinder children’s overall development, the latest research has suggested parenting practice as of the utmost importance to children’s well-being and learning efficacy. 

Led by HKU researchers, the study has received more than 2,000 responses from parents of primary and secondary school students between mid-June to July 2020. It examines the parent-child interactions and parent-school interactions before and during the class suspension, as well as the general stress level of parents.

Four patterns of parenting behaviour are identified, which are: very low engagement in all kinds of interactions; primarily maintaining child-focused communication; providing above-average levels of child-centred support, such as monitoring online activities and help with schoolwork; and comprehensive support, meaning high levels of engagement with both the child and the school.

The findings also reveal that maintaining a good parent-child relationship is the single most beneficial factor for children. For parents, perceived closeness of relationship with their children sees the most self-reported benefits by their children, such as self-efficacy for online learning and enhancement in digital skills. Furthermore, lower participation in using digital tools for socializing and entertainment is also reported.

In addition, parental participation in school activities shows significant benefits in students’ online learning performance and their perception of the usefulness of online learning tools. This could be due to parents being more able to provide appropriate support through a better understanding of the school’s plans and arrangements. 

The analysis also points out that parent-teacher interactions during school suspension predict the extent to which children encounter obstacles in online learning. This possibly indicates that teachers reach out to parents or vice versa when they observe children’s difficulties in online learning.

Given the above research findings, Professor Nancy Law, Deputy Director of the Centre of Information Technology in Education, and Dr Tan Cheng Yong, Associate Professor of the Faculty of Education at HKU, remind parents to focus on communication with their children, teachers and schools, under the new normal. 

“Parents’ understanding, empathy, socio-emotional support and encouragement are more important for children’s wellbeing than specific guidance or coaching on their school work,” they conclude.


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June 2021

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