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Parenting for Achievement

"The best available evidence indicates that children of different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds come into the world equally equipped to excel...However, by age three, between-group skill differences are clearly in evidence. Later, gaps in school readiness are firmly established by the first day of kindergarten. " Toward Excellence with Equity, 2007, Ronald Ferguson


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AGI Parenting Projects

Seeding Success: This project aims to influence early childhood parenting and care-giving practices. It builds upon a two-day conference the AGI held in the summer of 2011. Prominent researchers made brief presentations on the most important insights from their work regarding how parents affect achievement. Following the conference, the AGI assembled a national advisory committee and began to design a project that reaches parents of all racial and socio-economic backgrounds. The focus is on five fundamental parenting behaviors for children ages 0 to 3 that support multiple domains of early childhood development. The AGI is partnering with Smart from the Start—a well-established community-based organization in Boston—to pilot the intervention with a quasi-experimental assessment design.

Read the "Review of the Science Behind the Seeding Success Zero-to-Three Initiative: Evidence for the Fundamental Five Early Childhood Parenting Behaviors".

How I was Parented: More than one hundred extensive interviews with Harvard students on how they were parented have been conducted. The focus is on ways that parents contributed to Harvard students' development as learners and human beings. Students interviewed during the 2008-2009 school year were from the Harvard Kennedy School and the Graduate School of Education. Interviews during the 2009-2010 school year were from the Harvard Law School, the Harvard Business School and the undergraduate college. Reports from the project will contrast and compare the parenting styles that students from a variety of backgrounds have experienced and report students’ perspectives concerning both good and bad experiences. Ways that parents dealt with differences between (e.g., supported or neglected) high and low achieving children in the family will be a special focus. Reports from this project will be disseminated through the AGI web site and other publications.

Past Projects

The AGI began convening the AGI Parent Leadership Network in September 2008. Researchers and parent leaders from communities in several states have met four times at Harvard to learn about relevant research, trade ideas, coach one another, and share examples of their own leadership.  Presentations and discussions have covered topics ranging from home-learning lifestyles, to ways of helping schools and holding them accountable. The AGI Parent Leadership Network's main purpose is to equip parent leaders with ideas and energy for helping others in home communities to help ALL our children succeed. An aspiration is to organize both action and research projects spanning a number of the participating communities. Participants in the Parent Leadership Network have found it both inspirational and helpful as a source of ideas. more...

The “Love-to-Read Survey” was inspired by a participant in the AGI Parent Leadership Network, seeking reading suggestions for his children. Using survey responses from students at Harvard and other universities, the AGI has begun compiling annotated booklists from which teachers, parents, and children can select books that helped inspire a love for reading. A particular emphasis was to identify works that help adolescents better understand issues of racial, gender, and social class identity. The initial report from the Love to Read project has been well received by parents associated with the Parent Leadership Network. Possibilities for an expanded version and wider dissemination are under consideration. more...