Examining Relations Between Parental Feedback Types and Preschool-Aged Children’s Academic Skills

  •  Chelsea E. Carver    
  •  Shirley Duong    
  •  Heather Bachman    
  •  Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal    
  •  Melissa E. Libertus    


Prior research has shown associations between parent and teacher feedback and school-aged children’s academic outcomes. Specifically, studies have demonstrated that positive feedback (i.e., praise and/or affirmation) is beneficial for children’s academic outcomes, while corrective feedback exhibits more mixed associations with children’s academic outcomes. Little is known about the relations between parental feedback and younger children’s academic skills. The present study examines the frequency of positive and corrective types of feedback provided by parents of 4-year-old children during semi-structured interactions, as well as how these feedback types relate to children’s concurrent math and language skills and their change in math skills over a one-year period. Parent-child dyads (n=91) were observed interacting with a picture book, grocery store set, and magnet board puzzle for 5 to 10 minutes each, after which they completed math and language assessments. Parental affirmation was positively and corrective feedback was negatively associated with children’s concurrent math outcomes, but only corrective feedback was uniquely negatively associated with children’s math outcomes when controlling for affirmations. Parental praise was individually and uniquely positively associated with children’s expressive vocabulary and change in math outcomes from age 4 to age 5. This study suggests that the relations between parental feedback and young children’s academic outcomes depend on the type of feedback and the outcome of interest (i.e., math vs language), which can inform how parents may want to provide feedback to facilitate learning.

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