Record: Lance S. Windish and David A. Wachob, “Homeschooling Parent Stress Levels and Its Association with the Mental and Physical Health of Their Children” The International Journal of Health, Wellness, and Society, 7, No. 3 (2017): 11-21. [Abstract]
Summary: Windish is a Health and Physical Education teacher at Rock Ridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia, and Wachob is an assistant professor and program coordinator for the undergraduate teacher education program in the Department of Kinesiology, Health, and Sport Science at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The purpose of the present study is to determine whether the stress levels of homeschooling parents have an effect on the mental and physical health of their children. While the health of parents typically has a strong correlation with the health of their children, homeschooling families have never been studied in this regard.
The participants of the study came from the homeschool physical education program (HPEP) at Indiana University of Pennsylvania that Wachob has written about previously. Of the 13 mothers who participated, the mean age was approximately 42, and they had an average of three children. 12 of the 13 mothers were married, and most of them were stay-at-home parents who had received a post-secondary degree. Of the 19 participating children, the average age was 12 with a standard deviation of approximately 2.5. The children’s sample consisted of 11 girls and 8 boys.
Parents and children were administered a widely-used psychological instrument, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), to collect their perceived stress levels and sociodemographic information. The parents’ results were then compared to their children’s survey results and the children’s fitness scores on a wide variety of tests (push-ups, running, flexibility, etc.).
Overall, the parents had a relatively low amount of perceived stress; however, approximately 80% of parents said that they had “sometimes” felt nervous or stressed in the last month. The children’s level of stress was similar to their parents, as expected. With regards to the fitness testing, there was not a significant correlation between the parents’ stress and the children’s fitness, but this could be attributed to the small sample size.
Appraisal: Unfortunately, this article isn’t nearly as interesting as Wachob’s previous article about the logistics of the homeschool physical education program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania or his study with Robert Alman about parental influence on the cardiovascular health and body composition of homeschooling children. To me it feels intuitive that parents with a lot of stress would negatively impact the health of their children, especially in a homeschooling environment; however, for people in the health professions, it is probably helpful to have evidence that the correlation seems to apply in a homeschooling environment as well. If this study were ever repeated with a larger sample, it would be interesting to know whether the correlation between parents’ stress level and children’s health would actually be stronger among homeschoolers due to the greater amount of time that homeschooling children spend with their parents.
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