The Impact Of Family Background On The Academic Performance On Primary School Pupils

Primary Education Project and Semina Material

The Impact Of Family Background On The Academic Performance On Primary School Pupils


The study examined the impact of family background on the academic performance on primary school pupils. More specifically, the study sought to assess the academic performance within sound family background and paltry family background in primary schools. The study consist of all primary schools pupils in AMAC, Abuja, simple random sampling technique was use to pick the respondents and 122 primary schools pupils were selected.

100% respondents duly participated in the survey. A well- developed questionnaire was designed to elicit information from the respondents.

The data collected were analyzed using the descriptive statistics technique and the chi-square was employed to test the stated hypotheses at 0.05% significance level. Result from the study indicated that parents’ educational level, occupation, family size and level of motivation are key variables of family background that significantly influences the academic achievement of pupils. Also pupils’ from sound family background naturally tend to perform better than their peers from paltry family background.

Base on this, the study advised that pupils should be encouraged, monitored, motivated and supported by their parents and teachers.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Education is the best legacy a nation can give to her citizens especially the youths. This is because education is very important in the development of any nation or community. Education is the process of transmitting what is worthwhile to members of the society. According to Okafor (1981). Education embraces all those experiences of the individual through which knowledge is acquired and intellect enlightened. For Nwabachili and Egbue (1993) education is what goes on from one generation to another generation. In this context, education is the process of socializing the child to grow up as a fulfilled member of the society through informal, formal and non-formal process. Informal education is the process of acquiring knowledge about the environment and beyond through living with one another. According to Nwabachili and Egbue (1993) formal education is a consciously planned form of socialization in a formal setting such as school. They stressed that non-formal education involve all those systematic programme? and processes of education and training that is done outside formal education settings. All these forms of education cannot be achieved without the influence of the family.

Family is the first social environment the child finds itself. According to Clifford (1981) family remains the primary environment of the child. The author emphasized that family environment has more chances of increasing or decreasing the intellectual achievement of the child. Akubue and Okolo (2008), defined family as a small kinship structural group with the key function of natural socialization of the new born. Similarly, in Okunniyi (2004), family is defined as a primary social group of parents, offspring and possibly other members of the household.
Family background refers to all the conditions and circumstances in the family which influence the child physically, intellectually and emotionally Muola (2010). Children coming from different family backgrounds are affected different by such family conditions, that is why some children have good family background while some have poor background. Citing fleege, Eke (1999) noted that with some families, the background way vary from time to time for the same individuals.

Formal education therefore remains the vehicle for human development which must start from the family. There are different categories of families. The major categories of families according to Anderson and Taylor (2000) includes: Traditional families-where the father is the major breadwinner and mother at home rearing children; divorced families-families that have been reconstituted following the breaking of marriage; single parent families-likely headed by women; step families-with new siblings and new parents stemming from re-marriage.

A family could also be categorized as extended or nuclear. Extended families are those in which large group of related kin in addition to parents and children live together in the same household. This is the type of families prevalent in African countries. Nuclear families are families where married couple resides together with their children. Thin type of family is common in Western countries (Andersen and Taylor 2000).

Families are of various sizes. Family size has to do with the total number of people in a single family which may include the father, mother, children and even the extended members – all living in one hamlet. According to Alio (1995) family size has implication for education. The author emphasized that the size of the family determines to a great extent the relative amount of physical attention and time which each child gets from his parents. Large families are more common among the lower class of the society. Children in large families may suffer poverty and lack parental encouragement and stimulus which motivate their academic achievement (Eamon, 2005). Similarly, smaller family size has been linked with high academic achievement (Majoribank 1996) Majoribank further stressed that pupils with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention and have support that leads to better school performance Family (small or large size) remains the primary environment of every child. The families begin the process of education and provide physical and psychological needs of the child. This supports the view of Maduewisi (1982), that the environmental experiences from family, peer group and school location have great influence in determining child’s intellectual ability. She maintained that bright children from under-privileged family environment may turn dull due to impoverished family environment. She added that mental development influence, intellectual development. This is in line with Hebb (1987) who observed that the innate potentials of children cannot be attained without adequate stimulating family environment because the child cannot do well intellectually. The implication is that a proper stimulating family environment with intellectual potential and appropriate teaching methods will definitely enhance maximum performance of the child.

Durosaro and Durosaro (1990) in their study attempted to investigate the’ relationship between pupils’ family size and their academic achievement; they found out that family size influenced academic achievement. Their study reveals that children from small size families performed better at school than their counterparts from both average size and large size families. Furthermore, Yoloye (1989) conducted a study to see if the family background variables might be useful in explaining their academic achievement. Some aspects of family background variables examined in the study include family size and parents’ educational status. His findings were that the polygamous family sizes which were naturally large, reduces the chances of children going to school in the first instance. In addition, children from such backgrounds who are in schools have reduced chances of achieving their goals. Thirdly, parents of such families are mostly illiterate and incapable of providing adequate motivation for their children in schools as compare with the literate nuclear families.

The economic implication of large family size is better explained in Okuniyi (2004) who observed from his study that as families get larger, parents cannot give their children the same amount of individual attention. They could not afford to provide them with so many of the things which will help them to make the best possible use of their years at school such as educational aids, and quiet comfortable rooms in which to do homework undisturbed by the television, outings to places of interest, leisure lime pursuits, and opportunities for traveling. What is most probably important of all, according to him is the fact that the parents of large families were found not to talk with their children to the same extent as parents of small families.

Another aspect of family environmental factor is the structure of the family. Structurally, a family is either broken or intact. A broken family in this context in one that is not structurally intact for various reasons; such as death of a parent, divorce, separation, desertion and illegitimacy in which case, the family was never completed (Coukline 1996). Life in a single parent family can be stressful for both the child and the parent and such families are faced with the challenges of diminished financial resource?!, assumptions of new roles and responsibilities, establishment of new pattern in intra- familial interactions and reorganization or routines and schedules, (Agulanna 1999).

In single parent families, children may suffer some psychological and social problems which affect their academic performance. Danesy and Okedian (2002), in theirstudy, lamented that street hawking among primary schoolspupils have psychologically imposed other problems, such as sex networking behavior, juvenile delinquent behavior, which take much of the student school time that necessitated the poor academic performance and drop out syndrome noticed among young school pupils. They also lamented that the maternal and paternal deprivation of essential needs of the young pupils have promoted their poor performance in public examination as JSCE, WASSCE and NECO. Similarly, (Okunniyi 2004) asserted that a child who suffer maternal and paternal deprivation may experience academic problems including truancy in the school. This is because the child may lack some necessities like school fees, books and uniforms. These conditions, according to the authors, are not conducive for effective parenting because when the single parents are overburdened by responsibilities and by the own, emotional, reaction to their situation, they often become irritable, impatient and insensitive to their children’s needs.

Apart from the structural pattern of the family, another powerful variable in the family that determines the pupils’ academic achievement is the family socio-economic status (SES). According to (Jeynes 2002), the socio-economic status of a child h most commonly determined by combining portent’s educational level, occupational status, and income level. Social class and economic status of the parents determine the type of school and the standard of training they desire for their children. The occupation or profession of the parents, the educational level and whether the mothers are working or non-working mothers places them at an advantage or disadvantage to evaluate their children’s academic work and monitor their progress.

Status is often determined by the individuals’ economic attainment, though it is sometimes ascribed on the individual. Okunniyi (2004), identified three distinct socio-economic groups or status which are common in many countries. They are: upper class- which is made up of rich business men and top government officials among others; middle class- which consists of skilled workers, professionals and middle ranked government workers and the lower class- which is made up of manual workers, petty trader and low income government officials.

Francis (2007) opines that the lower income families may be aware of the importance of education in the society, but at the same time, they are also aware of their limited resources to measure up with such educational demands. According to the author, a family that can scarcely provide for the basic needs of the family which include rood, shelters and clothing will hardly motivate the academic excellence of their children, instead they will pressurize their children so seek for job opportunities with the little education they acquired so far to support the family. The implication of the agreement is that for families are likely to give their children poor academic background because- ol lack of financial support.

The socio-economic status of a family is capable of affecting the behavior of the children and determines their aspiration. Families with high socio-economic status often have more success in preparing their children for school because they typically have access to wide range of providing their young children with high quality child-care books and encourage children in various learning activities at home. They also have easy access to information regarding their children’s health, as well as social, emotional and cognitive development (Ojo and Yilma 2010),
Ojo and Yilma also noted that in all socio-economic groups, parents face major challenges when it comes to providing optimal care and education for their children and these challenges are more pronounced in poor families.

This, according to them, is because sometimes, when the basic necessities are lacking, parents must place top priority on housing, food, clothing and health care, regarding education materials and books as luxuries. They added that poor families may also have inadequate or limited access to community resources that promote and support children’s development and school readiness. They further asserted that these disadvantages can negatively affect families’ decisions regarding their children development and learning. This situation, according to Ojo and Yilma, may also expose the infants in poor families to a greater risk of entering kindergarten schools unprepared, unlike their peers from rich families.

Parents’ motivation is another family background factor which influence the academic achievement of pupils. pupils under motivated condition, exhibits purposeful behavior aimed at achieving academic set goals. The achievement of these goals determines the motive, Hickey and Lindsey (1995) clearly distinguished two- perspectives of motivation; these are situational and dispositional perspectives. According to them, disposition perspective asks questions about pupils’ general orientation to learning which relates the pupils’ priority and pupils’ nature. The situational perspective according to the scholars focuses on learning context. These scholars further identified to factors that greatly influence pupils’ motivation. These are: interpersonal factors such as curiosity, perseverance, and autonomy (intrinsic-factors) and environmental factors such as parents, peers and sibling (extrinsic factors).

Research shows that supportive and attentive parenting practices positively affect academic achievement (Eamon, 2005). In addition, high parental aspirations have been associated with increasing pupils’ interest in education (Majoribanks, 2005). The effect of parental motivation and involvement in their children’s school has on academic achievement is less clear (Domina 2005), parental motivation and involvement in schoolhas been linked to both positive and negative influences on academic achievement (McNeal, 2001, Domina, 2005). Explanations for this discrepancy are not conclusive. It is thought that the type of involvement and motivation may make a difference and that in some cases parents become involved after their child has already academic difficulties (Domina, 2005, McNeal, 2001). Other recent research has found more conclusively that while parental motivation may not help academic achievement, it does help prevent behavioral problems (Domina, 2005).

Pupils with fewer siblings are likely to receive more parental attention and motivation and thus have more access to resources than children from large family. The additional attention and motivation leads to better school performance (Majoribanks, 1996, Thondike, 1997 and Samon, 2005).

Thondike reorganized seven ways of motivating pupils viz: awareness on the part of the parents of the value of education whether such parents are literature of illiterate; existence of books, newspapers, comic books; good nutrition am’ sleeping habit; adequate facilities for sleep, for study and for rest; satisfaction physical needs like food, shelter and clothing; objects in the home which challenges the child’s curiosity.

Douglas (1984) established a positive correlation between children’s academic achievement and motivation. The author laid considerable emphasis upon interest as a factor governing children’s chances of being awarded grammar school admissions. For the author, the simple most important factor that influence educational attainment of children appears to be the degree of parents interest in their children’s education. Douglas further stated that middle class parents express great interest in their children’s education as indicated by more frequent visits to school to discuss children’s progress, buying relevant textbooks and other necessary materials needed in the school for their children. The author also found from his study that parental interest and encouragement become increasingly important as a spur to high attainment as the children grow older. He also attached importance to the child’s early years, since in many ease:*, performance during the first years of school is reflected throughout the primary schools. He suggested that during primary socialization, middle-class children receive greater attention and stimulus from their parents. This forms basis for high achievement in the educational system.

Pupils from low socio-economic status families may not be strongly motivated to do well in school and may not be knowledgeable about techniques of being successful in school. High socio-economic status parents who have benefited in a variety of ways from education serves as effective and enthusiastic advocate of schooling (Carlson, 2003). In line with this Qkwulanya (2003) opines that motivation from educated parents strengthens the academic aspiration and language development in their children to perform better in their academic work. According to the scholar, some children may come from homes were academic is much valued, where there are books around them and most of the time, they see their parents reading. Their parents may give them books as Christmas presents. They encourage them to read many books wither by organizing mini, library for them at home or by encourage to use the state library. The author went further to emphasize that some children may come from illiterate homes, where no importance is attached to books. In such families children scarcely see their parents at home.

In all, the researcher’s conclusion is that motivated pupils are likely to engage in an activity more vigorously and more effectively than unmotivated one. Motivation is always goal orientated. The importance of parental level of education to academic achievement of pupils cannot be over emphasized. pupils from professional and to a lesser extent managerial occupational backgrounds exhibit higher academic performance (Gary, 2001). In support of this view, Onochie and Okpalla (1985) opined that educational level of parents which is an indicator of socio-economic status has direct influence on child’s values and academic achievement in the school. They mentioned that children from illiterate families may learn little or nothing from home that can help them develop interest in academic. This is in contrast to what is obtainable from children from literature families where parents provide atmosphere conducive for the formation of good study habits (Qeca, 1980).

Parental occupation is also an important family background variable. The occupation of one’s parents may determine to a large extent one’s opportunity to attend primary schools or not. Ezeji (2001) noted that parents like their children to take to their occupation, like parents who are lawyers, doctors, musicians among others. Examples of such people in the country- include Gani faweiheni, the prominent human right lawyer, Oliver Akalite (Oliver De coque) and Osita Osadebe who were famous musicians each of these great men had one or more of his children in his type of occupation. Uwaomn (2066) asserted that most vocational pupils were children whose parents are farmer or craftsmen. In Nigeria most children whose parents cannot afford to pay for high cost of formal education enroll into apprenticeship programmes such as carpentry, brick laying, petting trading and others. In the study area, there is a seeming general poor performance among primary schoolspupils. Evidences of the poor performances are seen in both pupils’ internal and external examination. For instance, the available records of WAEC result analyses from 2005 to 2011 indicate downward trends in student’ academicachievement. According to the analyses, the achievement levels of pupils arc as follows: 2005-27.53%, 2006-15.56%, 2007-25.54%. 2008 13.76%, 2009-25.99%, 2010-24.94% and 2011 -30.99% (source: WAEC Lagos).

It is against this background that the researcher is interested investigating the influence of family background on pupils academic achievement in AMAC, Abuja. The researcher intends to investigate the variables in the family background with a view of assessing their relative influence on academic achievement of primary schools student in AMAC, Abuja.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Most pupils in Nigerian primary schools are in greater risk of poor academic achievement in both internal and external examinations (WAEC and NECO). For instance, the available records of WAEC result analysis from 2005-2011 show a continuous decline in pupils overall performance in school certificate examinations.

Government, parents, teachers and pupils blame one another for pupils’ poor performance in schools. Parents blame teachers for lack of dedication to duties. The teachers blame government for poor salaries hence they are poorly motivated, parents also accuse government for not equipping the schools with learning materials, government blame parents for not doing good homework and the pupils are blamed for lack of discipline and dedication to their studies.

In light of the above issues, the outstanding and relevant question is: what is the influence of family background on academic achievement of primary schools pupils?

1.3 Purpose of the Study

Generally, the purpose of the study was to find out the influence of family background on pupils’ academic achievement among primary schools pupils in AMAC, Abuja.

Specifically, the purpose of the study is to find out:

  1. The influence of parental level of education on academic achievement of primary schoolspupils.
  2. The influence of parental occupation on pupils’ academic achievement,
  3. The influence of parental income on pupils academic achievement.
  4. The influence of family size on pupils’ academic achievement
  5. The influence of parental motivation on pupils’ academic achievement.

1.4 Research Questions

The study will provide answers to the following research questions:

  1. What is the influence of parental level of education on pupils’ academic achievement?
  2. What influence does parental occupation have on pupils’ academic achievement?
  3. What is the influence of parents’ income on pupils’ academic achievement?
  4. What is the influence of family size on pupils’ academic achievement?
  5. What influence does parental motivation have on pupils’ academic achievement?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will guide the studying and will be tested at 0.05 level of significance.

  1. H01: Parents’ education level has no significant influence on the academic achievement of Primary schoolpupils.
  2. H02: Parents’ occupation has no significant influence on the academic achievement of Primary schoolpupils.
  3. H03: Parents’ income level has no significant influence on the academic achievement of Primary schoolpupils.
  4. H04: Family size has no significant influence on the academic achievement of Primary schoolpupils.
  5. H05: Parents’ level of motivation has no significant influence on the academic achievement of Primary school pupils.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Theoretically, the findings of this study are considered significant because it can help in providing empirical information in identifying and explaining the various family background variables and the influence of the variables on pupils academic achievement. This will help in better understanding of the phenomenon. Moreover, it is expected that the findings will help to explain the functionality of the theoretical postulations Maslow’s motivational theory. According to Maslow, motivation is very important in learning, and a learner under motivated condition, exhibits purposeful behaivour aimed to achieving the set goal. The pupils is motivated to learn when their physiological need like shelter, food, water, rest and safety needs like love and belonging. The satisfaction of these needs leads to the quest to satisfy higher needs which boarder on self-esteem and self-actualization. The understanding of this theory especially as it relates to pupils teachers and parents would be of particular significance to researchers in the field of education and family studies.

Practically, the finding of this study will be useful to the following: the teachers, pupils, parents, school guidance counselors, Parents Teachers Association (PTA), educational administrators and the society at large.

The finding of the study will be of immense help to the teachers. The teachers will realize the necessity of individualizing their teaching by structuring their teaching methods and instructional resources to take care of the divergent parental backgrounds of the pupils. This method may yield more positive result than the traditional system which assumes that all children have similar family background. The findings of the study will also help teachers to exercise patience with slow-leaners as they vary methods of instruction to accommodate divergent family background.

The findings will be of immense importance to pupils. The pupils will realize that their poor performance might not necessarily be their fault alone, especially those from low status families.-Such knowledge will go a long way to reduce frustration in the pupils and also reduce drop-outs which occur as a result of frustration. Rather, thepupils should be made to adjust and help themselves by studying hard at home and also make proper of the books and materials that are provided for them at the school library.

Through the findings of this study, parents will realize the import acne of improving their educational standard so as to influence their children’s academic performance. Parents will also understand the need for them to improve their socio-economic status so as to be able to provide the necessary motivation in form of learning materials and other things which will enhance their children’s learning and their academic performance. They will equally acknowledge the importance of positive motivations and encouragement and provide some, by making the family environment more conducive for their children.

The school guidance counselors will also benefit from the findings of this study. They will be in position to guide and counsel pupils in the area of personal social interactions, academic performance and career choice.

The findings of the study will help Parents Teacher Associations (FTA) of school in promoting the academic performance of student. This is because FT A snorting, parents know their functions and responsibilities at home, to help solve their children’s problems both home and school environment.

The findings of the study will be of immense help to educational administrators. They will use the findings in the formulation of policy that will regulate equal educational opportunities for all children irrespective of their family background in the distribution of equipment, facilities and amenities to schools.

The findings of this study will help the society at large in identifying how family environmental variables – such as what parents’ level of education, parents’ income, parents’ occupation, parents’ motivation and family size on student’s academic performance. This will act as a check on increasing low academic performance among pupils, occasioned by the fact that some parents, teachers and counselors do not have adequate knowledge/input required of them.

1.6 Scope of Study

The study is limited to Primary school pupils. The context scope of this study is limited to finding the influence of family background on academic achievement of pupils with particular regards to parental level of education; parental occupation, parental income, family size and parental motivation.

Chapter Five

Summary of the Study, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary of the Study

The problem of this research is whether there is influence of family background on pupils’ academic achievement among primary schoolspupils in AMAC, Abuja. Although many think that pupils perform poorly in academic because the teachers did not teach well, some other people believe that this problem is not caused by teachers. They traced the problem to the family background of pupils which has the capacity to promote or retard pupils’ achievement.

Bearing this problem in mind, the focus of this study is to find out whether there is any influence of family background on pupils’ academic achievement by examining the influence family background variables like parental education level, parental occupation, parental income level, family size and parental motivation on pupils’ academic achievement.

To Achieve the Objectives: This study was carried out on AMAC, Abuja. with a total population of one hundred and twenty pupils.

Five research questions and five research hypotheses tested at 0.05 level of significance were used. The instrument for data collection was questionnaire designed by the researcher through the review of related literature and validated by experts. The questionnaire contained twenty six (26) items. Likert-type of scale was used to rate the responses. The reliability of the instrument was established using trial test method.

The data were analyzed using mean and standard deviation to answer the research question and t-test statistics to test the null hypothesis at 0.05 level of significance. The results showed that: pupils’ academic achievement is influenced by parental level of education, parental level of income and parental motivation while parental occupation and family size are not significant determinants of pupils’ academic achievement.

5.2 conclusion

There is also the need for teachers to be more motivational in their teaching. This is possible when they vary their method of teaching and teaching aids to take cognizance of the individual differences inherent in the pupils from their different family backgrounds. Teachers can ameliorate through filling the parental motivational needs by individualizing instruction and taking special interest in the slow learners who suffer from deficient parental motivational pattern.

Another vital implication from this study is that school authorities should try to avoid grouping or streaming the school children especially according to ability and intelligence. Since the student come from different family background, there is every tendency that they differ in many respects. To have balanced and competitive class, the pupils should be randomly distributed, avoiding grouping intelligent ones one side and dull ones the other side.

This study equally implies that there is a greater need for more literacy and awareness campaign than before to awaken illiterate parents and instill awareness in literate parents who seem to attach much importance to education. The programme should be extended to rural areas where it is needed most.

5.3 Recommendations

Education is an important instrument of change in modern societies. Provision of adequate and relevant education is the best thing a nation can do for its citizens. This is more so, because education is a virile weapon against ignorance, disease, poverty and as a means of producing enlightened, responsible and industrious citizenry and prosperous nation.

Based on this background, the researcher makes the following recommendations:

  1. One of the major findings of this study is that parental income level has a great influence on pupils’ academic achievement. For example, most cases, parental income is proportional to pupils finding which also determine to a large extent, the level of academic achievement of pupils. In this case, it is recommended that parents as a matter of importance should diversify their sources of income so that they can be able to provide fund their children in school for better academic achievement.
  2. Parents should be made to realize the importance of motivation in determining their children academic achievement in schools, especially the realization that most of the male pupils are abandoning school for business. Parents should be actively involved in encouraging pupils to learn and also in supervising pupils academic work at home
  3. Pupils’ should give serious attention to studies at home, in addition to other various works done, since the amount of effort they put in their studies influence their academic achievement.
  4. Teachers should understand that teaching is a job of conscience. Teachers should handle the pupils as their own children; try by all means to meet the pupils’ academic social and psychological needs. They should be motivational in their teaching and use different teaching methods so as to go along with all categories of pupils. This will help bridge deficiencies from negative family background.
  5. The state and Federal Governments should legislate against examination malpractices. Such situation will force pupils to sit up and take their studies serious. Again, the various governments should create employment opportunities for the graduate of various institutions of higher learning. Lack of job opportunities contributes to the loss of interest and zeal for education by pupils. The current situation in Nigeria where graduates are left with little or no hope of employment gives no encouragement to the primary schoolspupils for further education. Rather, the pupils see going to school is a waste of time.

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