Influence Of Family Background On The Cognitive Development Of Pre-Primary School Pupils

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Influence Of Family Background On The Cognitive Development Of Pre-Primary School Pupils


Abstract


This study sought to examine the influence of family background on pre-school children’s cognitive development in English language in Calabar Municipality, Cross River state, Nigeria. These were necessitated by the desire to establish whether family dynamics could be a reason to the bad academic cognitive development in English Language. Cognitive development will entail the scores in the English Language. The research adopted a descriptive survey design. This was suitable in this study as it helped the researcher establish the existing conditions at the family level. It further allowed identification of standards or norms with which to compare the family background. This eventually impacts cognitive development in English language. The target population was 1 head teacher, 2teachers and 65 pupils. The purposeful sample consisted of the head teacher, the 2 teachers and 20 pupils. A pilot study was carried out on a different set of respondents to better plan for the research. The test-retest procedure was used for testing reliability and it yielded favorable results to warrant reliance on the data collected and its findings. This was further analyzed and presented through narratives, tables and bar graphs. The study revealed that to improve on the cognitive development of the English language at Calabar Municipality, the family background challenges have to be tackled. The family structure and the place where the family lives were identified as major cause of poor cognitive development. They need to put more resources to improve on the cognitive development. This presents a major challenge because parents settle in places due to other factors beyond their control and as such to invest a lot in education is a challenge. It was clear that the parent’s level of education and their socio-economic standing play a part in poor cognitive development in English language. The study recommends that families should in partnerships with teachers and other education stakeholders, device strategies to help learning and instruction of the English language at schools but also at home. This will greatly improve cognitive development in English language and even in other subjects whose language of instruction is English.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

From the beginning, parents have been the major persons involved in raising children in every society. That is why the family is recognized as an important agent of socialization.

Adekeyi, A. (2002) observes that it is mainly through their efforts and abilities that children are socialized to become productive citizens. So, wherever parents possess the resources and skills and apply them effectively and joyfully in raising their children the entire society benefits.

This brings joy and pride to the nation, and encourage development and peaceful co-existence. The children themselves feel good and bring happiness to their parents and the whole community.
In view of this, the influence of family background on the cognitive development of pupils becomes and indispensable factor in the wheel of progress. It is a fact that parental background influences pupils’ cognitive development either positively or negatively. A well-to-do family will have positive interest in the education of their children.

According to Ezewu, E. (2003), family background of parents affects children especially in respect to their academic achievement.

The primary function of parents is the rearing and protection of children and passing on to them the values and beliefs of the society. They also teach children the rules, traditions and ways of doing things. It is also the responsibility of the parents to provide their children with shelter, food, education, security and personal development. This is the family of orientation. The level of educational attainment of parents influence the academic achievement of their children. For instance, in a family where both the mother and father are educated, their children are always taken good care of in their academic activities. They may go through their children’s exercise books after school, or even employ a private teacher to teach them after school. By so doing their academic achievement will be improved; whereas in the case of illiterate family, the need to supervise their children’s exercise book is not there, hence their children’s low academic achievement in school.

It is obvious to note that the level of achievement of a child educationally also depends on the hereditary factors and the environmental factor.

Hereditary factors influence a child’s academic achievement in school. This happens when a child inherits poor genes from either the mother or the father; such a child will not be able to achieve much even if the environment is conducive for effective learning. On the other hand, a child who inherits a very high gene from parents may not perform very well if, the environment is not stimulating.

A conducive environment is necessary for a good cognitive development of a child. A stimulating environment could spur up a potential mediocre into an intellectual giant while an inhibiting environment could turn a genius child into a mediocre. The aim of this research work is to find out the influence of family background on the cognitive development of pre-primary school pupils. The effect of family background on pupils’’ cognitive development in primary schools has been a problem for the past decades and must not be left to chance.


1.2 Statement of Problem

The influence of family background, that is, the socio-economic status of parents in the cognitive development of their children have been posing very serious problem to many people in our society. It is argued in some quarters that children from rich parents perform better cognitively than those children from poor parental background in the classroom situation. But some people hold the opposite view by arguing that most of the children from rich families are way-wards in school cognitively than children from poor and average families. In the classroom here in Calabar Municipality Local Government Area, the teacher teaches pupils together irrespective of their family background.

This research work is premised on this erroneous thinking and misconception in our society. The researcher is therefore poised to make findings to determine whose child performs better academically and what are the causative agents to this. The researcher will also find solution to the problems and suggest ways and methods to eradicate or improve upon the situation for the benefit of pupils, parents, schools, educators, and the society as well.

Many students are greatly handicapped in their cognitive development in many school subjects because their knowledge of English language is greatly inadequate. English language occupies a vital and indispensable position in education. It is the medium of instruction used in entirely everyway in schools right from preschool to university education in the country. Despite the importance of English language, the cognitive development of students over the years has been on a downward trend.

Language and literacy development is an ongoing process that occurs all day long, both in and out of the classroom. It is important to recognize that the rate of progress in acquiring these skills will differ depending on the learning styles and abilities of each child, the child’s primary language, the child’s racial, linguistic, cultural, and ethnic background, and, for second language learners, the level of exposure to the new language and the language spoken at home. The preschool years, when children’s cognitive and motor skills are developing at a rapid pace, are the optimum time for teachers to provide experiences that will build a firm foundation for the development of language and literacy (Boocock 1995). Research into the factors that promote positive language growth and learning in young children is central to addressing achievement gaps that exist in children from different language and socioeconomic backgrounds. In the light of this, the main problem of this search is to find out if there is a relationship between the family background and the pupil’s academic cognitive development in English language.


1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to determine the influence of family background on the cognitive development of pre-school children in Calabar Municipality L.G.A, Cross river state, Nigeria.

Specifically, the study seeks to fulfill the following objectives:

  1. To determine the relationship between the family structure and the cognitive development of children in English language.
  2. To assess the effect of where the children live on their cognitive development in English language.
  3. To establish the relationship between parent’s level of education and the children’s cognitive development in English language.
  4. To determine the relationship between the social economic status of the parents and the children’s cognitive development in English language.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the influence of the family structure on the cognitive development of children in English language?
  2. How does where the children live affect their cognitive development in English language?
  3. What is the influence of parent’s level of education on the children’s cognitive development in English language?
  4. What is the relationship between the social economic status of the parents and the children’s cognitive development in English language?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The findings from this study will help the parents/ guardians to understand their role in their children’s cognitive development especially in English. They will be provided with rich information as to why they are their children’s first teachers and very important in their cognitive development in English language.

Policy makers and other education stakeholders may use the information to understand their role on factors affecting the cognitive development of English language among preschool children. This might be used to influence policy making especially on curriculum development so as to ensure that it is adapted to the social conditions of children in various localities leading to improved cognitive development in English language.

It could also be used to encourage parents to help their children with their school work and the children to know that their parents have the ability to provide them with all the things that are required in the school.

Finally when completed it can add to the existing literature and may encourage further research on the topic


1.6 Scope of the Study

The study was be carried out in Calabar Municipality L.G.A, Cross River state. There are several preschools in this zone but only nine are public schools. The study focused on the teachers, parents and their children sampled from one of the nine public schools in this area. The area under study could have characteristics likely to be found in the nine preschools in the zone; therefore, the findings may be generalized due to the similarity in their way of life, regional and physical similitude.


1.7 Limitations of the Study

According to Best and Khan (2008), limitations are conditions beyond the control of the researcher that may place limitations on the conclusion of the study and their application to other situations. Personal characteristics of the respondents may have some effects on the study. They might not give the correct responses to the items. Some might hide some information saying it is personal. There are some factors that the researcher might not be able to control such as the responses of the respondents which could be affected by factors like suspicion and fear of the repercussions of their responses. The respondents could therefore give socially accepted responses to avoid offending the researcher (Musula, 1988) and this might result in getting responses that are less reliable and valid. To avoid this, the only thing that the researcher did was to explain the importance of the study to the respondents and request them to be as honest as possible in their responses.


1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

Family:

A unit consisting of father, mother or guardian and children.

Family Background:

Involves family structure, place of residence, parents’ level of education and social economic status of the parents.

Family Structure:

The composition and nature of the members of the family living together in the child’s home. It refers to the composition and characteristics of the families such as: birth order, family size, family ages (ages of family members), gender of the family members, number of adults, number of children, one and two-parent families, and number of older siblings.

Language:

A means of communication using words either spoken, gestured or written.

English Language:

Communication using English Language.

Competence:

Being able to write and speak fluently in English without any problems.

Cognitive Development:

That which the child is able to attain because of the competence in English language.

Preschool Children:

Children between 4 to 8 years.

Preschool:

An institution of learning for children aged between 4 to 8 years.

Parents / Guardian:

Include the biological parents and any other person living with the child assuming that role.

Low Level Education:

Education of below class eight.

High Level Education:

Education of form four and above.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary of research findings, discussion of key findings, conclusions made from the study and the recommendations for policy and practice. The chapter also presents suggestions for further research.


5.2 Summary

The main objective of this study was to determine the influence of family background on pre-school children’s cognitive development in English language in Calabar Municipality, Cross River state. This study was guided by the following research questions formulated to aid in gathering the information regarding the research topic.

  1. What is the influence of the family structure on the cognitive development of children in
    English language?
  2. How does where the children live affect their cognitive development in English language?
  3. What is the influence of parent’s level of education on the children’s cognitive development in English language?
  4. What is the relationship between the social economic status of the parents and the children’s cognitive development in English language?

Twenty three questionnaires were distributed as follows; one to the Head Teacher, two to the Pre-School teachers and twenty to parents. All the questionnaires distributed were collected representing 100% response rate. Overall there was total response from the respondents, providing a great platform for final research findings. The findings showed that 65% of the Parents were female while 35% were male. The single Head teacher was male, while the two pre-school teachers were both female. The majority of the parents were married. This is a good pointer to the reliance one would place on the findings of the study.


5.3 Conclusions

This section presents a discussion of the findings and compares and contrasts the findings with other scholarly studies done on the same topic.

5.3.1 The Influence of the Family Structure on the Cognitive development of Children in English Language in Calabar Municipality.

The incidences of poor cognitive development in English can be due to family structure where more mothers seem to be the ones concerned with the children’s education. There were also more girls than boys in the study. Mothers have a major impact on the family and would be interested to contribute to the improvement of the children’s cognitive development in English. The mother could be available because they are not working far from home and were reachedwithin the shortest time possible. The study also found that majority of parents was in marriage hence indicating that they were in organized family units. These results were also collaborated by the teachers and the head teacher.

5.3.2 The Effect of where Children Live on their Cognitive development in English Language

Where the children live has been identified as a major influence in cognitive development of the English language. Because most of the parents live in the outskirts of the Calabar Municipality Township, this trickles down to poor cognitive development. Although they do not face many challenges children who live inside the town face such as transport, air pollution and noise, they still are affected and record poor results. The teachers and head teacher also felt strongly that where children live impacts greatly on how they grasp the English language and this in turn affects their cognitive development not only in English but in other subjects.

5.3.3 The Influence of Parent’s Level of Education on the Children’s Cognitive development in English Language

In terms of the respondents’ levels of education, the study found that 10% of the parents had never been to school, 45% had Primary education, and 35% secondary levels of education. The results imply that majority of the respondents had at least a primary level of education. The educational background points to the fact at least they easily understood the issues rose in the questionnaire concerning the area of study. The teacher also reported that for the pre unit children, Efik is the only language the children learn in school. Only a few of the parents and pupils can communicate fluently in English. This affects the development of the English language. According to the teacher, the guardian’s level of education influences the child’s cognitive development positively. Again, when the parents come to the teacher, she speaks to them in Efik because only a few of them can communicate fluently in English.

5.3.4 The Relationship between the Social Economic Status of the Parents and the Children’s Cognitive development in English Language

The study shows that majority of the parents earn low incomes. The results present a situation where poverty thrives and could be a pointer to the poor cognitive development in English language in Calabar Municipality. According to the teacher, the household that the child comes from often influences the child’s cognitive development in English. To make sure that the household influences the child’s cognitive development positively, the teacher advises the parents to limit the use of mother tongue at home. The teachers confirmed that the household that the child comes from often influences the child’s cognitive development in English and that there should be efforts from other quarters to help mitigate and provide a conducive environment to ensure that the cognitive development in English language is not affected.

5.3.5 The Results of Pupils Cognitive development in English Language

The cognitive development of the pupils in English language from the study shows that there is an above average cognitive development for the year 2014. This is below expectation as per benchmarks from other schools in the same level of education.


5.4 Recommendations

As the study results show, the poor cognitive development of English language can be attributed to the four variables. The strongest of all was where the child live where the study discovered that the cognitive development of the pupils has been affected by their neighborhoods. While the researcher may not recommend that such families shift, the parents need to engage more efforts to improve on the English language cognitive development. The family structure also affects the cognitive development by not providing a conducive environment. This was confirmed by both parents and teachers in the study. The next strong factor was parent’s level of education where the study concludes that parents with higher education generally tend to be keener on their children’s cognitive development. The socio-economic status also plays a part by interfering with how children matters are addressed by the parents.

Children might require additional help to perform better but the parents may not be in a position to provide. The teachers’ and head teacher’s inputs should also be incorporate in efforts to improve English cognitive development.

5.4.1 Recommendations for Further Study

Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are drawn for future research;

  1. The effect of parent’s non-involvement in the learning of English Language in public schools in Nigeria.
  2. Home based factors influencing cognitive development in English Language in public primary schools in Nigeria.

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