A new study out of the UK found that students whose parents divorce after they turn seven are significantly more likely to see a drop in school performance.
The research examined children of all age groups, and it attempted to determine how children are affected by a variety of factors. The study concluded those children who are exposed to divorce or constant arguing between parents after the age of seven exhibit “lower educational attainment” at the secondary or high school level.
The study analyzed 40 factors believed to impact educational performance in children. Factors ranged from the amount of television children watched to emotional stress like parental divorce or a death in the family. Researchers asked the children to indicate which factors they had been subjected to, and they compared their GCSE scores (a UK test each student must take to pass high school) to one another. Below are some other factors that impacted educational performance.
- Children who watch a lot of television were found to have weaker verbal skills.
- Researchers found that kids with parents who enforced “house rules” like TV limits and weekly chores reported high test scores.
- Researchers noted that frequent punishment at home was linked to worse test scores and behavior at school.
- Parents can actively boost their child’s verbal skills by reading with them.
- Children who had mothers who consumed alcohol on a regular basis were better behaved than children whose mothers did not drink regularly. Researchers believe these children may strive to be “better off” and seek to enjoy “more predictable lifestyles” than their mothers.
- Having many siblings was associated with lower test scores.
While the above results are noteworthy, arguably the most interesting finding is how divorce impacts children at different ages. Based on the findings, researchers believe that younger children may not be as affected as older children because they are less likely to understand the implications of a divorce.
“These findings highlight the continuing significance of family separation, conflict and dissolution on the educational attainment and wellbeing outcomes of young adolescents,” researchers said about the study.
In addition to a decline in test scores, researchers noted that a child who experiences a divorce after the age of seven is more likely to exhibit worse behavior in the classroom. These behaviors can range from bullying to vandalism.
Although the study reveals some disappointing trends, researchers argued that some children still succeed despite “unpromising circumstances” and some do poorly despite “having a good start”.
Related source: Medical Daily