College enrollment is steadily increasing, with 71% of women and 61% of men enrolling in college after graduating high school. But for teenage mothers college enrollment might feel out of reach. According to a study by Sandra Tang, a University of Michigan psychology research fellow, though, the children of teen mothers are more likely to thrive when their mothers continue their education. Indeed, mothers’ educational achievements are, according to the study, a major predictor of children’s academic success.
Why Mom’s Education Matters
The study pulled data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort. This nationally representative sample of children who entered kindergarten in 1998 offers data on 14,279 children, who were interviewed through 2007. Researchers compared educational records for children born to moms under 19 to records for children whose mothers were 19 or older.
Children of teen moms did worse in math and reading than children whose mothers entered parenthood once they were older, and children’s academic success was correlated with their mothers’ academic achievement. Unsurprisingly, teen mothers were less likely to complete high school or enroll in college. But when the mothers did continue with their education, their children were more likely to excel academically.
Tang cautions that even this group of children didn’t fully catch up to peers whose mothers delayed childrearing. She explains in the study that, while her data uncovers good news for children whose mothers continue with their education, it confirms previous data suggesting that children of teen moms remain at risk for low academic achievement.
Education for Teen Mothers
Women who achieve higher levels of education are more likely to land good jobs, enabling them to support their families and avoid poverty. A variety of programs have sprung up across the country to help mothers who may be struggling. Some offer in-school programs specifically for pregnant women, while others offer resources such as childcare or even scholarships to allow pregnant mothers to attend high school and college.
- Mothers’ education significant to children’s academic success. (2014, November 10). Retrieved from http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/22501-mothers-education-significant-to-children-s-academic-success
- Women’s college enrollment gains leave men behind. (2014, March 6). Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/06/womens-college-enrollment-gains-leave-men-behind/
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