Journey to Excellence

Family Structure

family - (n) 1) a group of individuals living together as a unit/household; 2) a group of people deriving from common stock or having common affiliations

structure - (n) something arranged in a definite pattern of organization

Family structures are quite varied today, so much so that the ‘traditional’ family–a father, mother and children–compose an ever shrinking portion of the community and school population. Different family structures result in different relational dynamics that impact on student well-being, self-perception, and motivation for learning. The effect on student learning is even more evident when students come to school in the midst of a significant change in family structure.

Educators have long recognized the impact of divorce and re-marriage on student achievement. In addition, when families wrestle with modern issues such as various addictions, abuse, gender identity issues, and non-conventional relationships, a student’s attention may shift from successful academic achievement to mere survival tactics. All of these family dynamics have the potential to interfere with students’ perceptions of success and persistence. The educator must be constantly aware of an individual students’ home environment and family structure in order to support each student and give them the best opportunities for learning.


Dunn, J. F., Booth, A. Eds. (1998). Family-school links: How do they affect educational outcomes? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, Inc.

Farrington, J. (November, 2002). How your family can affect you. Weekly Reader, 29(3) 6-12.

Jeynes, W. H. ( 2003). The effects of black and Hispanic 12th graders living in intact families and being religious on their academic achievement. Urban Education, 38(1) 35 – 57.

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