Children and youth
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The academic achievement of Canadian 9-year-old children varies widely across the country. Some variations are linked to gender, some to household income, and others to province of residence.
Girls and boys did not differ in mathematics achievement in the 2006/2007 academic year. However, girls rated higher than boys in attention ability and were more often reported by their parents as doing well in their reading and written work and at school overall. Girls were less likely than boys to receive tutoring or extra help for academic problems.
Canada's 9-year-olds have parents who value good grades and who are optimistic about their children's future education. However, income-level differences are evident when it comes to education goals. A lower percentage of children from very low-income families than from high-income families have parents who expect them to attend university.
In 2006/2007, parents of half the children from very low-income homes expected their children to attend university, whereas parents of almost two-thirds of the children from higher income homes expected the same. Similarly, parents of 24% of children from very low-income homes had set secondary school completion (or less) or non-academic training as a goal for their children, compared with parents of 9% of children from higher-income homes.
Children living in smaller communities are less likely than those in large urban centres to have parents who hope that they will attend university—a finding perhaps linked to the availability of postsecondary options in their communities.
Most 9-year-olds have parents who are actively involved in their schooling. These parents talk with their children daily about school work and school friends, monitor their homework, and participate in activities at their school.
In 2006/2007, the frequency with which children were assigned homework varied considerably, with more than half having daily homework, but 15% having homework once a week or less. The frequency of daily homework differed substantially among the 10 provinces.
Of the 9-year-old children who had daily homework in 2006/2007, 82% had parents who reported checking or providing help with their homework every day. Another 12% reported doing so a few times a week. Even among children who did not have daily homework, 26% had parents who reported checking or providing help with homework daily, while 42% had parents who did so a few times a week. No differences appeared in mathematics achievement between those with daily homework and those with less frequent homework.
Children who score highest on indicators of school readiness at age 5 also score highest on academic achievement at age 9, regardless of the child's gender or the income level of the child's family.
The level of attention ability children attain at age 5 tends to persist throughout their schooling. Attention is a fundamental skill linked to all aspects of academic achievement measured at age 9. In 2006/2007, children at this age with lower levels of attention ability tended to show lower academic achievement than those with higher levels.
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