The Significance of Parental Involvement in Early Educating

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Bridging the gap between home and school is a major objective of much educational policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Critical to fulfilling this aim is parents' involvement in children's early academic lives. Indeed, at the federal level, in the No Child Left behind Act of 2001, increasing such involvement is one of six targeted areas for reform. Moreover, several national organizations, such as the Parent Teacher Association and the National Coalition for Parental Involvement in Education, have as a primary goal promoting parents' involvement in children's education. The educational reforms of many states (e.g., California, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri) also include efforts aimed at heightening parents' involvement. In addition, many teachers and parents are uniting at the local level to develop programs to increase parents' involvement in their schools (e.g., Adams et al., 2004).

The aim of increasing parents' involvement in children's schooling is based on a wealth of research suggesting that such involvement is beneficial for children (Pomerantz, Grolnick, & Price, 2005). To date, the research conducted on parents' involvement in children's education has generally taken the approach of examining the extent to which parents are involved, with more involvement on the part of parents being better for children. Although such an approach is a fundamental first step, factors beyond the extent of parents' involvement are of major significance. Indeed, as Epstein and Van Voorhis (2001) argued with regard to the time children spend on homework, it is "more than minutes." In fact, contrary to what is often assumed, more involvement on parents' part may not always be better for children.

Defining Parents' Involvement and Its Mechanisms of Influence

What Constitutes Parents' Involvement?

Drawing on several diverse lines of theory and research, Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994) defined parents' involvement in children's schooling as parents' commitment of resources to the academic arena of children's lives. Although a number of meaningful distinctions have been drawn between different forms of such commitment, following several investigators, we make the broad distinction between involvement based at school and that based at home. We use this distinction because it is a concrete, parsimonious one that may be used with ease by researchers, policy makers, educators, and parents. As such, it allows for continuity across these often separate, albeit related, stakeholders in children's lives. Moreover, the distinction between involvement on the school front and that on the home front is of import because the two may embody distinct ways that parents become involved in children's schooling, with distinct effects on children.

School-based involvement represents practices on the part of parents that require their making actual contact with schools. Practices in this vein include, but are not limited to, being present at general school meetings, talking with teachers (e.g., attending parent-teacher conferences, initiating contact with teachers), attending school events (e.g., open houses, science fairs), and volunteering at school. Parents in the United States most commonly become involved on the school front through their presence at general school meetings and parent-teacher conferences, which national surveys indicate are attended by approximately two thirds of parents regardless of their ethnicity (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Such involvement is even higher among parents with heightened socioeconomic status and educational attainment. Other forms of involvement also increase with socioeconomic status and educational attainment. For example, volunteering at school is less common among less educated (e.g., 16% to 40% in 2003) than more educated (e.g., 54% to 62% in 2003) parents (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Volunteering in school is also less common among Hispanic (e.g., 28% in 2003) and African American (e.g., 32% in 2003) parents than their European American counterparts (e.g., 48% in 2003).

Parents' school-based involvement may also include involvement at a higher level, such as being a member of the school board and attending school board meetings. Epstein (1990) labeled this involvement in governance and advocacy, distinguishing it from school-based involvement at a lower level. In line with the majority of extant research (for some exceptions, see Eccles & Harold, 1996; Epstein, 1987), we do not focus on parents' involvement in governance and advocacy. The direct impact on children may be quite small, given the limited interactions parents and children may have in its context. Moreover, only a very small proportion of parents (5% to 6%) become engaged in such involvement (Ritblatt et al., 2002).

Parents' Involvement Influence on Children

Parents' involvement on both the school and home fronts has been argued to enhance children's achievement in school. Two major sets of models have been proposed. In skill development models, parents' involvement in children's academic lives improves children's achievement because of the skill-related resources it provides children. By "skill- related resources," we mean cognitive skills, such as receptive language capability and phonological awareness, as well as meta-cognitive skills, such as planning, monitoring, and regulating the learning process. There are a number of reasons why parents' involvement may enhance such skills among children. First, when parents are involved in children's academic lives, they may gain useful information about how and what children are learning in school; such information may aid them in helping children build cognitive and metacognitive skills (see Baker & Stevenson, 1986). Second, when parents are involved in children's academic lives, parents may gain accurate information about children's abilities. Holding such information may enable parents to assist children at a level that fosters maximal skill development among children (see Connors & Epstein, 1995; Epstein, 1987). Third, even when parents do not have such knowledge, their home-based involvement may provide children with opportunities to learn from practice and instruction. Fourth, Epstein and Becker (1982) suggested that parents' involvement on the school front is valuable because when teachers see parents as involved, they give the children of these parents heightened attention toward developing their skills.

Effects of Parents' Involvement

Since the early 1980s, much theoretical and empirical attention has been directed toward the role of parents' involvement in children's achievement. This endeavor has manifested itself in two bodies of research, which have covered families from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds with children mainly in preschool through middle school. In one line of research, the focus has been on the effects of parents' naturally occurring involvement. Investigators have generally measured the extent of a variety of forms of parents' involvement in children's schooling using parents', teachers', and children's reports. The associations of such reports with children's achievement, mainly as reflected in children's grades, have then been examined concurrently, as well as longitudinally. In a second line of research, using a variety of designs (e.g., pre and post assessment, experimental and matched control groups), investigators have examined the effects on children's achievement of interventions that are intended to promote parents' involvement in children's schooling (e.g., a booklet of academic activities for parents to encourage children's reading or a contract between staff members, parents, and children pledging involvement on the part of parents). As will be apparent from our review of these two lines of research, they yield fairly different conclusions.

Research on Parents' Naturally Occurring Involvement

There is now a wealth of research linking parents' naturally occurring involvement in children's schooling to children's achievement. The findings of the studies examining the effects of parents' school-based involvement are consistent with the notion that such involvement is beneficial for children. Much of the research has revealed concurrent associations between heightened school-based involvement on parents' part and enhanced achievement on children's part. For example, in a nationally representative sample, Stevenson and Baker (1987) linked teachers' reports of parents' involvement in school activities with teachers' reports of children's performance in school and the extent to which children performed up to their ability during the elementary through high school years. Similarly, focusing on mainly middle-class European American early adolescents, Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994) showed that teachers' and children's reports of parents' involvement in school activities (e.g., parent-teacher conferences, open houses) were associated with children's grades. The apparent benefits of parents' involvement are also evident among families of other backgrounds (e.g., d'Ailly, 2003; Jeynes, 2003, 2005). For example, Hill and Craft (2003) found that middle-class African American mothers' involvement in kindergarten children's school activities (as reported by mothers and teachers) was associated with enhanced grades among children.

In longitudinal research with mainly middle-class parents of European descent, Senechal and Lefevre (2002) demonstrated that the more exposed children were to reading during the kindergarten years, the better their subsequent reading skills (e.g., receptive language, phonological awareness) in third grade (for similar results among low-income, ethnically diverse families, see Raikes et al., 2006).

When parents' involvement in children's academic lives on the school and home fronts do have positive effects, it appears to be due to both skill and motivational development. Testing a motivational development model among mainly middle-class European American families, Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994) linked parents' involvement on the school and home (i.e., cognitive-intellectual involvement) fronts to heightened positive perceptions of competence among children, which accounted in part for the link between parents' involvement on these fronts and children's heightened achievement.

The How of Parents' Involvement: It's Not Just the Extent

Theory and research on the extent of parents' involvement in children's schooling have proved important in elucidating the role of parents in children's achievement. However, as may be evident from our review, a second step is necessary to fully realize the benefits of parents' involvement in children's academic lives. We now turn to making the case that how parents are involved in children's schooling contributes to the effectiveness of their involvement. In doing so, we draw from Darling and Steinberg's (1993) proposal that the effects of parents' practices on children are determined by the style with which such practices are used. In the context of parents' involvement in children's schooling, we focus on four qualities of parents' style that have emerged as important in theory and research on parenting (see Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Dix, 1991; Eccles, 1983; Maccoby & Martin, 1983; Pomerantz et al., 2005): autonomy support vs. control, a process vs. person focus, positive vs. negative effect, and positive vs. negative beliefs about children' s potential (see Table 1). As will be evident from our review below, the research on these qualities has mainly been on middle-class families of European descent. Although more research is clearly needed, the extant research on families from other back- grounds has yielded findings.

Controlling Versus Autonomy-Supportive Involvement

There is an extensive body of theory and research on multiple forms of parental autonomy support and control. We draw on Deci and Ryan's (1987) self-determination theory (Grolnick & Ryan, 1989; Pomerantz & Eaton, 2001), in which autonomy support is defined as allowing children to explore their own environment, initiate their own behavior, and take an active role in solving their own problems.

Controlling behavior, in contrast, involves the exertion of pressure by parents to channel children toward particular outcomes (e.g., doing well in school) by regulating children through such methods as commands, directives, or love with-drawal. In the context of parents' school-based involvement, autonomy support and control may manifest themselves in a number of ways (see Table 1). For example, when visiting children's classrooms during a school open house, parents may be autonomy supportive by allowing children to show them around; parents may be controlling by directing the tour themselves. On the home front, autonomy-supportive parents may support children in developing their own schedule for completing homework, whereas controlling parents may do so for children without their input.

Involvement Characterized by Positive Versus Negative Affect

As Dix (1991) emphasized, parenting is an inherently affective endeavor (see also Larson & Gillman, 1999). This may be particularly true of parents' involvement in children's schooling (Reay, 2000). On the positive side, one reason that parents may assist children with homework is to establish a sense of connectedness with them (Pomerantz, Wang, & Ng, 2005a). Thus, when involved in children's schooling, many parents may attempt to maintain positive affect by making their interactions with children enjoyable, loving, and supportive. Indeed, on the basis of her interviews with a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse sample of mothers of elementary school children, Reay (2000) described mothers as providing encouragement and empathy to children in the context of their involvement in children's schooling. On the negative side, despite attempts to be positive, parents may experience negative affect because children themselves experience negative affect around academic activities (Fuligni, Yip, & Tseng, 2002; Leone & Richards, 1989), leading parents to become irritated and annoyed or even hostile and critical. Moreover, parents' involvement may be colored by negative affect because of the stress of other commitments (Reay, 2000). As illustrated in Table 1, parents' positive versus negative affect may manifest itself in school-based involvement in a variety of ways (see also Reay, 2000). For example, parents may express enjoyment rather than irritation while talking to teachers or volunteering in the classroom. In the context of involvement on the home front, parents may be supportive and caring rather than hostile and critical during con- versations with children about their day at school.

When parents' involvement in children's academic lives is characterized by more positive than negative effect, it may promote children's achievement through the development of their skills and motivation. In terms of skill development, parents' positive affect may foster positive affect in children that counters the negative affect they often experience in the homework context (Pomerantz, Wang, et al., 2005a), allowing them to focus on cultivating their skills. Fredrickson (1998, 2001) argued that the experience of positive emotions may create openness to novel ideas and courses of action. In contrast, when parents transmit negative affect to children, such affect may interfere with children's attention to their work and ultimately their development of skills. Consistent with motivational development models, by keeping their involvement enjoyable and loving, parents may convey to children that although schoolwork can be frustrating, it is an enjoyable endeavor, thereby fostering an intrinsic orientation. However, when parents are involved in an irritable, critical manner, they may convey that doing schoolwork is an unpleasant task. Parents' positive (vs. negative) affect may also signal parents' support of children during times of difficulty; enabling children to confront challenge constructively (Estrada et al., 1987; Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987; Pomerantz, Wang, et al., 2005a).

The Whom of Parents' Involvement: The Child-Environment

Increasingly, investigators concerned with the role of parents in children's development are adopting models of socialization in which the effects of parenting on children's development are determined in part by the characteristics of children. Such Parent X Child models of socialization may be of particular import to understanding the effects on children of parents' involvement in their academic lives. We focus here on one attribute of children that may play a particularly significant role in determining the effects of the quality of parents' involvement: children's competence experiences (e.g., their achievement and perceptions of their ability). As a consequence of a variety of influences (e.g., peer socialization, cognitive abilities), children may come to their interactions with parents differing in their competence experiences. Although all children may benefit from parents' involvement in their academic lives when it is characterized by such positive qualities as autonomy support, a process focus, positive effect, and positive beliefs, the benefits of such positive involvement may be moderated by children's competence experiences in school (Pomerantz, Wang, et al., 2005b).

Children with negative experiences may be particularly sensitive to the quality of parents' involvement because such children have a heightened need for the resources important to skill and motivational development (Pomerantz, Wang, et al., 2005b). Thus, children with negative competence experiences may derive particular benefit when parents' involvement in their academic lives is autonomy supportive, process focused, affectively positive, or accompanied by positive beliefs. Through skill and motivational development, positive parental involvement may foster achievement gains among children with negative competence experiences. Unfortunately, such children may be particularly vulnerable when parents' involvement is controlling, person focused, affectively negative, or accompanied by negative beliefs, because it deprives them of the resources of which they are so in need. In contrast, children with positive competence experiences may not be as sensitive to how parents become involved because they already possess the resources important to skill and motivational development.

When mothers' involvement in children's academic lives is characterized by positive effect, children with negative competence experiences also appear to be particularly likely to benefit. Using the daily interview method with mainly middle-class European American families, Pomerantz, Wang, et al. (2005a) focused on mothers' affect on the days their elementary and middle school children had homework. In this study, the focus was on children's competence experiences as manifested in helplessness (i.e., frustration and giving up) in the academic context. When mothers' affect was positive on days when they were involved in children's homework, children demonstrates high levels of helplessness while completing homework experienced heightened mastery orientation over the course of 6 months to a greater extent than children demonstrating low levels of helplessness. The benefit was to such a great extent that when mothers were particularly high in positive effect, helpless children's mastery orientation was not lower than that of children who were not helpless.

Parent Perceptions of Parental Involvement

It is important to understand their parents believe about parent involvement. The involvement of parents is what is most valuable? What method do they value the least? Teachers and parents need to have an understanding of the answer these questions, to promote the reciprocal and mutually beneficial relationship forward.Teachers and parents are well aware of how to participate in the school and parents can shape views on education level of parent involvement. Both play a role in improving participation, they can begin to type what kind of awareness of the value of effective participation. 

The school may affect the perception of parental involvement 

Stereotypes often appears there are many educators, parents do not seem to care about education. However, this stereotype is what teachers think that parents are often rooted in the people involved. Teachers tend to think as a parent to sign an indifference did not attend school activities, but this belief may reflect a model of ideological education and parents should be involved in what areas (Knopf Publishing, and Swick, 2003). 

Parents often take their cues directly from the teachers involved. If they feel their child's teacher is worthy of trust and care of students, they are more likely to respond to teacher-initiated interaction. When creating a trust, parents feel more empowered to take an active role, more involved in their own, so between a family and school (Knopf Publishing, and Swick, 2003) to each other. Parents, educators must recognize that the idea of ​​parental involvement. Some parents think that taking responsibility for monitoring and by others in the family that their active participation in the school involved in the leadership involved. Other parents may see a lack of respect for the role of schools as a positive one in the school itself a sign of lack of confidence. Lawson (such as Knopf and Swick, 2007 reference) Generally speaking, teachers are often more schools, in their beliefs, and parents with a wider view of community participation and the role of parents. 

Parent perception of parent involvement 

Loges and Barge (2003) stated in a qualitative research the views of teachers and parents to participate in a number of important discoveries. Using focus groups, researchers were able to interview the parents and teachers to parents to participate in finding their views. Such as regular check homework and class assignments of the participation activities. In addition to checking work at home, they are also involved in the monitoring of progress reports to keep up with learning, usually through the ordinary cards and progress reports, concept. 

The second theme appears in barges and Loges (2003) study. This is a belief, the parents of a child is equivalent to building a personal relationship teacher parent involvement. Parents seemed to feel that their children will get better treatment, and if teachers have become their children's education, active participation. Parents suggested, such as more frequent parent-teacher conferences, progress reports about teacher evaluation and use of information technology to spread ideas. Parents also felt that the school's extracurricular activities may be a major form of parent involvement. This belief is the reason behind the extra-curricular activities, academic support due to more opportunities, so that the lives of children and adult mentors will be more role models, and between parents, students and the schools of communication, different types of children. Although the parents said, they realized that participating in extracurricular activities; participation is not in the form of direct and indirect benefits worth doing. 

Parents to a family, school and community partnerships strong desire, they believe that this relationship will promote a more family-like between home and school, will provide more children need to support the academic atmosphere. Parents said they hope to create meaningful participation in school programs. These beliefs mirror Epstein's (1995), Category 5 and 6 class, parent participation class. Parents discussed the need for schools to become more in line with each child's family life are familiar with the uniqueness, I believe that knowledge of teachers can have a positive impact on how the students involved. 

Teacher's perception of parental involvement 

More than eighty percent of new teachers said that in order to be effective, must be able to parent well. However, they also said that communication and involving parents, it is usually the biggest challenge they face (Jacobson, 2005). According to Metropolitan Life Survey of the United States, the same teachers, many teachers, especially new teachers said they had no involvement from their parents under the guidance of its management staff, about a quarter of respondents said they do not feel ready for dialogue, the parents of their children's education. As more schools and focus more on how parents relate to their parents, this result does show is happening at school. Although there is hope to find new ways to participate parents, many teachers on how best to engage in a reciprocal, positive relationship parents uncertain. 

Traditional Beliefs Affect Perceptions

Teachers, like parents, often on their experience of past and present type of parental involvement in their religion. Many teachers use the history into complacency, teacher-led paradigm of the family involved, the decision is to trap the teachers, not currently training partnerships with parents (rising star, 2001). School culture influences the beliefs of participating teachers. If a school, a feeling of isolation operations, the teacher can use this line of thinking and operating on a small island to avoid the parents to contact. Response does not participate as a parent can be followed by a vicious cycle; both the parents and teachers take an active role in communication (Souto - Manning and Swick, 2006). In some cases, the views of teachers have also been involved in ongoing experience. Negative experiences can develop what kind of parent involvement is a stereotype, which may result in treatment less about teachers, including parents in the education process enthusiasm. 

Teacher perception of parent involvement

Participation of teachers in their ideas of qualitative research, barges, and Loges (2003) found that teachers tend to be divided into four main themes of response: "communication with teachers, involved in their children's schools and children in general, the normal parenting responsibilities, including supervision and discipline of life of children, particularly in support of the school "(p. 153) penalties. Teachers, parents and teachers access to features and take the initiative to maintain open lines of communication with their children's communication theme. They believe that leaders are often asked about the schools and students in ordinary schools to discuss the positive benefits. Teachers also believe that this type of communication will lead to higher expectations, further enhancing the participation. The theme seems similar to the communication involved, but the teacher is defined as action, not just spread more involved. This is a discussion area teacher, such as monitoring the academic progress of operations and activities. Around the normal operation of the theme of parenting responsibilities, such as ensuring children develop good nutrition habits, showing adequate sanitation, and has obtained the necessary materials and supplies. Finally, the subject matter of discipline in schools, not at home, the support of parents for disciplinary action. Hope that parents, teachers help students to establish authority and respect for responsible behavior. Baker (1997) conducted a similar qualitative study involving focus groups in 14 of 87 teachers. Her survey showed that most teachers support, communication, understanding parents, homework help, care and expectations. Baker report said: "In the most general level teachers want parents to support their efforts to educate their children. They spoke very strongly urge parents to support them and the professionals who have their own heart the best interests of children" (p. 157) them. Teachers feel strongly that their own beliefs and the core of education their children should have any involvement. 

In a longitudinal study conducted over 2 years, Renault (1992) collected data from parents, teachers and parents of students involved in the view. He also collected to test scores in reading and math data, mainly from low-income students or minority focus. He found a low to parental involvement and achievement tests between the scores in the moderate correlation. He also found that teacher views of parent involvement had the highest correlation with student achievement, and the views of parents and students are also associated with the achievement. Whatever its origin, the views of parental involvement were significant predictors of students two years of research results. 

The expectations of the parents also discussed in Baker (1997) study of teachers.Some teachers even said that expectations should be the parents to participate in the first form. How teachers and parents should be bundled with the high expectations of their children. They said this is for parents to spend time with their children how important, and emphasis on education is very important. One teacher said that this way: "You have to convince their parents ... and you know that their children will do better than they, they should plant these seeds, not just some of the teachers" (Baker, 1997, p. 161). 

Finally, the teacher has given how hard they try to encourage participation of insight.They said that participation is encouraged in several ways: special projects, in the classroom, to facilitate scheduling meetings, writing, volunteer opportunities, and parents, call a positive relationship, a common problem. Teachers are particularly interested in collaborative problem-solving ideas. They think it is very important to stakeholders when problems arise. There is hope, a solution to the problem if the parents are part of the process, they will be more likely to discuss issues not addressed.

Barriers for Parental Participation

The fact that parents from disadvantaged groups experience barriers to communication with the school and, as a result, barriers to cooperation with the school, is particularly worrisome (Todd & Higgins, 1998). In addition to this, there are differences of opinion with regard to education and socialization within the distinguished domains (home, school) with a significant number of the minority parents placing responsibility more or less exclusively with the school. It is precisely children from lower socio-economic milieus and an ethnic minority background that generally achieves less at school and therefore stands to benefit from improved and more intensive support from the school with respect to education and learning within the family, however. On the basis of qualitative, longitudinal research, Dweck & Lennon (2001) suggest that an approach in which schools go to migrant parents and listen to their specific questions and needs may be most successful. In addition to the fact that parental involvement appears to differ according to milieu and ethnicity, important differences in child-rearing styles and the home environment have been found to influence the development and learning of children. Parents from high socio-economic milieus have been found to create a more school supportive child-rearing environment. The manner in which the parents in such families function as a role model, the manner in which the parents and children interact with each other and the interests and activities of the parents outside of school all exert a positive influence on the achievements of the children. Parents from high socio-economic milieus are also simply more inclined and prepared than other parents to follow the progress of their children and help their children with their homework. For these reasons, the necessity of providing all parents with opportunities to get involved with the school is continually emphasized. And with the call to increase parental involvement among disadvantaged groups in particular, a strong claim is being imposed on today's schools.

Involvement as Allocation of Resources

Parental involvement often entails the allocation of resources to eliminate disadvantages in students' access to resources. For example, court battles to end school segregation were among the first of many parental actions to reallocate educational resources. Other actions serve to remove barriers to access, alter the incentive structure, and provide social support for student efforts.

Access to resources

To remove barriers to student use of health and social services, states and cities are placing clinics and other resources in or near public schools. As of spring 1989, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Population Options (cited in Kirby, Waszak, & Ziegler, 1989), 90 providers were operating 150 health clinics in 32 states and 91 communities. The majority (59%) of students who used the clinics were African American. Twenty-five percent were White, and 12% were Hispanic. The clinics provided a variety of medical, counseling, educational, reproductive, and family planning services and were typically found in low-income areas. Program operators included parental health clinics, nonprofit organizations, hospitals, medical schools, departments of public health, and school systems. Other involvement efforts focus on increasing low-income youths' access to employment and training. An example is the Youth Incentive Entitlement demonstration, that the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation managed and evaluated from 1978 to 1980. Through the efforts of the Youth Incentive Entitlement demonstration, over 80,000 low-income youths in 17 cities applied for work in jobs paying the minimum wage; in some cities, the employment rates of minority and White youth were equalized. Private businesses accounted for slightly over half of the work sponsors (Walker, 1984).

Incentives for effort and achievement

It is often assumed that the incentive structure for impoverished youth should be altered and that parental actors can play a major role in creating and providing incentives, thereby encouraging students to invest in constructive pursuits. Two of the most widely cited examples of parental involvement have attempted to provide incentives that will encourage disadvantaged students to graduate from high school and then either attend college or enter the work force. The first of these is The Boston Compact that was initiated in 1982 with a formal agreement to the effect that businesses, labor unions, and the Boston city government would provide priority hiring of graduates of the public high schools. In return, the school system contracted to reduce dropout rates, increase attendance, and assure that graduates were competent in basic skills.

Advantages of Parental Involvement

The benefits of parental involvement are not exclusive to the elementary school context. "[A]cross a range of studies, there has emerged a strong conclusion that parental involvement in child and adolescent education generally benefits children's learning and school success" (Hoover- Dempsey and Sander 1997); parental involvement is important to a student's educational success all the way to the high school level.

Specifically, studies show parental involvement to be positively related to high school students' academic achievement, time spent on homework (Keith et al. 1986; Trusty 1996), favorable attitudes toward school (Trusty 1996), likelihood of staying in school, and educational aspirations beyond the high school level (Trusty 1998). Of direct relevance to the present article, however, is that current educational research is uncovering a specific relationship between parental involvement and high school students' academic motivation.

The importance of parent involvement and its influence on student achievement is far-reaching. One teacher candidate summed it up in her writing: "The benefits of parental involvement are so immense that they are impossible to ignore. Parents are an invaluable resource to teachers, providing information about their child's home life and what works best for that child in terms of learning and discipline." She concluded that "as teachers, we need to convey the message that parents, school staff, teachers, and the community are on the same team trying to reach a common goal-that every student, every- day, learns and grows, and feels like a real human being."

The benefits of parental involvement were accentuated by the 2001 No Child Left behind Act (NCLB), which holds our nation's schools accountable for academic achievement for all students. Parents, teachers, and teacher preparation institutions need to know this law, its accountability provisions, and its benchmarks, which set achievement standards for all students. Parent involvement has teeth; no longer can schools pay lip service to this involvement because parents have the right to know what is happening in schools. Their right to know has been formalized through this legislation (Henderson et al. 2004). Teachers will readily admit that they have had very little training, if any, working with parents (see Baker et al. 1999). Even today, there is limited professional development at the school or district levels that incorporates the importance of the role of parents and how classroom professionals can harness this parental power as a means of improving and sustaining student learning. These barriers to effective parent involvement have been credited to a school environment that does not value the view and participation of parents or to parent roles that go beyond the traditional roles of parent support in schools. Parents may also not be encouraged to participate in school activities, especially if teachers perceived parents as not experienced or knowledgeable enough for tasks. These barriers are coupled with changing demographics that place parents with economic demands that limit time that parents are available to come to school. Finally, a lack of teacher preparation in regard to parent involvement in the classroom raises another barrier to effective parent involvement.


Although the research to date on the effects of the extent of parents' involvement in children's schooling has proved fruitful, it is time to move on to a second stage of research considering the how, whom, and why of parents' involvement. The first steps of this research suggest that how parents become involved makes a difference, so that more involvement on parents' part is not always better for children. It is also the case that children are differentially responsive to how parents become involved, so that the benefits of parents' involvement depend on what children themselves bring to their interactions with parents. The answer to the question of why parents should become involved in the first place needs to move beyond the idea that parents' involvement promotes children's achievement to the possibility that it may serve more broadly as a context for children's mental health development. As investigators explore issues of the how, whom, and why of parents' involvement in children's schooling, a clearer picture of the benefits of such involvement will emerge. As one does, it is likely that this will make interventions aimed at promoting parents' involvement successful.

In sum, the research on parents' involvement on the school front is fairly consistent in suggesting that such involvement benefits children in terms of their achievement. The effects of parents' school-based involvement on children's achievement are compelling in that they do not appear to be accounted for by parents' socioeconomic status or educational attainment). However, despite the use of longitudinal designs taking into account children's earlier achievement, definitive conclusions about the causal role of parents' involvement on the school front await experimental designs manipulating parents' involvement.