The effect of extracurricular activity participation on the relationship between parent involvement and academic performance in a sample of third grade children
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Previous research has suggested that parent involvement with children at home and in school is positively related to academic performance. Children with little to no parent involvement are at a distinct academic disadvantage. In light of this disadvantage, the present study examined the possibility that participation in extracurricular activities might serve as an alternative option for the school success of these children. Past research has found a significant positive association between participation in extracurricular activities and performance in school. Thus, this study tested the hypothesis that the relationship between parent involvement and school performance depended upon participation in extracurricular activities. In other words, children with low parent involvement who participated in extracurricular activities were expected to academically outperform children with low parent involvement who did not participate in extracurricular activities. This study also contributed to the literature on parent involvement and extracurricular activity participation by testing the relationship of each to academic performance. Participants came from a longitudinal, nationally representative data set and included 8410 third grade children. Parent involvement was measured with a composite variable including home-based and school-based involvement items (derived from parent and teacher report). Extracurricular activity participation was measured by parent report. Each child's academic performance was measured by teacher report of academic competence in reading and math. This study controlled for sex, race/ethnicity, previous achievement and family structure. Contrary to what was expected, the interaction between parent involvement and extracurricular activities was not significant. Although the relation between extracurricular activity participation and academic performance was statistically significant, that of parent involvement and academic performance was not. Supplementary analyses revealed a positive, statistically significant association between school-based parent involvement and school performance; a negative, statistically significant relation was found between home-based parent involvement and school performance. Previous research supporting home-based parent involvement has utilized parent training provided by schools and teachers. Results of the current study, which did not involve formal parent training, may therefore suggest that children stand to gain more from home-based parent involvement when schools and teachers encourage, train, and support parents. In response to the encouraging finding with respect to extracurricular activity participation, future researchers may wish to delve further into the topic by examining the activities or characteristics of those activities that prove most beneficial for the academic performance of children.