And so based on my own experience with Japanese and American public schools, and the articles in my previous post, here are the two most important Parenting Factors for Academic Success (bar none).

1) Valuing education as a key to success

2) Making sure your kids have the work skills to know how to learn and be successful

You’re saying, “duh”, right? But what is the difference between Japan and America? Let me tell you the difference in math scores isn’t racial, it isn’t socioeconomic (except for how poverty impacts parents’ ability to make sure kids have work skills) it’s the value of education.

It’s the fact that most every person in Japan knows, understands, and continues to uphold how academic success=life/work success.

That is not true in all places in the United States. And, a kind of corellalary to that is #2, making sure the kids have the work skills to suceed. One can do that by joining the PTA, or forcing your kids to practice hours and hours of math drills or piano or whatever.

One might do that by coming home from work and making sure your child did their homework before letting them play Super Mario Bros. There are many ways this can be accomplished, but if you aren’t doing it, your child may not be sucessful.

And if you have #1, but can’t achieve #2 because of parental mental issues, drug addiction, poverty, or because in your subculture, hard work isn’t seen as the ticket to success, then it won’t work either.

Or as writer and educator Jim Van Pelt put it, “If we really want to see our schools improve, we need to work on the gallon-a-minute leak in the boat.”

Where the gallon-a-minute leak would be socio-economic factors plus a person’s valueation of education.