How parents help children with homework in China: Narratives across the life span

Sungwon Kim, Vanessa L. Fong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines how ten young adults in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, China, perceived how their parents helped them with homework during their childhood and adolescence. Between 2011 and 2012, we interviewed five men and five women from Dalian who had first been recruited in 1999 from a college prep high school, a vocational high school, and a junior high school as part of a longitudinal study of Chinese singleton children. In this sample, most parents had not finished high school but expected their children to finish college. Parents' lack of ability to directly assist their children in their schoolwork at home (and thus promote their children's skills) was compensated for by involvement strategies that often tapped into their children's motivation. Our study illustrated how several strategies that have not been reported in the Western scholarship on parental involvement (i.e., reasoning about the importance of education, watching children study, and offering food, criticizing, and blaming) can map onto the skill and motivation development model Western researchers have developed, while highlighting the previously understudied salience of these particular strategies, especially for parents who do not have enough education to teach the skills their children need for upward mobility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-592
Number of pages12
JournalAsia Pacific Education Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Dec

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We are most deeply indebted to the people in our study for sharing their lives with us. We also thank Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Nancy Hill, Kari-Elle Brown, Stephen Koenig, Yun Zhu, Lisa Hsiao, March Zhengyuan Fan, Emily Bai, Lizzy Austadt, Edward Kim, Dian Yu, and Kunali Gurditta, for their advice and assistance. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0845748. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The research for this article was also supported by a Beinecke Brothers Memorial Fellowship, an Andrew W. Mellon Grant, a National Science Foundation Fellowship, a grant from the Weatherhead Center at Harvard University, a postdoctoral fellowship at the Population Studies Center of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Demography Fund Research Grant, a grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Visiting Fellowship at the Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities at Cambridge University, a grant from the Harvard University China Fund, grants from the Harvard University Asia Center, a grant from the Harvard University William F. Milton Fund, and a grant from Amherst College.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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