How much you earn is less important than how much you know when it comes to boosting kids' brain power. And it's never too late-new studies have found that parents who return to school have kids who do better in school and are more successful in life.
These findings are surprising because it was always assumed that income had the most influence on children's success, says Pamela Davis-Kean, director of the Center for the Analysis of Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood at the University of Michigan.
While researchers can't say exactly why kids do better when parents are better educated, it could be these parents read more to their kids, show warmth and role model positive behavior, Davis-Kean says. "And when you go back to school, your home may become more structured, and we know that more structured time is beneficial to kids."
The strongest findings were for parents who had only a high school degree and returned to school. "Those with the lowest education have the most impact on their kids' outcomes by getting more education."
Ultimately a parent's level of education generally means a higher income, which also has an impact on children's well-being. "If you want to sustain the ability to buy a house, to have something for your family, education is going to be the avenue for that," Davis-Kean says.