Rebecca Jackson

School of Thought

Results of Massive Educational Research Study Released

Interactive study on homework, media use, and parenting style helps parents

Posted Feb 17, 2015

Are you concerned because your daughter cries at every single one of her hockey games? Are you irritated because your son drags out his homework time with constant excuses? Have you given up altogether on trying to control your child's media use on the weekends?

Wouldn't it be helpful if parents were provided with concrete information on which routines and habits improved academic success, increased social skills, and promoted emotional balance in children? That was the goal of The Learning Habit study, a massive interactive online survey that, combined with hundreds of parent and teacher interviews, took three years to complete.

Researchers developed the survey to offer parents a unique opportunity to see how their family routines and habits compared to the routines of others and to find out how they impact social, emotional, and educational learning. What made the survey unique was that it wasn’t a passive survey; it was specifically designed to make parents really think about their involvement in their children's lives.

"When it comes to controlling my child's media use, I know I fall short and I feel guilty about that," said Kim, a mother from San Antonio, Texas, who, along with hundreds of other parents, assisted researchers last year by taking the survey during its beta testing and offering feedback.

Kim reported that just taking the survey actually alleviated some of her guilt; the fact that the questions were being asked indicated, to her, that she was not the only parent struggling with these issues.

There are so many factors in a child's life and so many influences that parents feel they neither control nor understand. The results of the study and interviews are currently being used to support parents in establishing new learning habits and routines for 2015.

The study examined a myriad of different factors, including parenting style, academic achievement, emotional features, communication methods, and family interactions. The goal was not to condemn media use or any particular parenting style, but rather to start a conversation about finding balance and see what those habits look like.

"I look around the bus stop at some of these children and wonder if their parents are doing something different then I am," said Danielle, from Franklin, Massachusetts, who also participated in the beta testing. "I'm very curious to see how other parents responded.”

Led by Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D., ABPP, the research team includes Allison Schettini Evans, Ph.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist at Brown University School of Medicine, Dr. Judith Owens M.D., MPH, from Children's National Medical Center; and Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, M.S.W., LICSW, Clinical Director of The New England Center for Pediatric Psychology, and best-selling author of The Narcissistic Family.

The study included 50,000 families, making it one of the richest research projects ever to look at the complex of influences and behaviors present in children's everyday lives.

Curious about the results? Here are a few of the findings on family time and emotional regulation. 

The Learning Habit study showed that the simple act of spending time together as a family taught children emotional regulation. Emotional regulation is the ability for children to process and express a wide range of emotions in appropriate ways.  Helping children to appropriately manage and express their feelings is an important part of parenting. 

Emotional Regulation

  • Impacts social development
  • Impacts emotional development
  • Impacts cognitive development  

This skill also helps children to better handle frustration, adjust to transitions and new situations, and successfully manage emotional situations.  Additionally, parents who indicated increased “family time” had children with higher overall grades (GPA).

Copyright ©Rebecca Jackson 2015 

READ: The Learning Habit: A Groundbreaking Appoach to Homework and Parenting That Helps Our Children Succeed in School and Life  (Based on the largest study on families in U.S. history)