Parental involvement and family support

Problem statement

Parental involvement in a child’s learning process from the early years to high school remains among the key factors contributing to a child’s success in school and life. It is widely associated with better learning outcomes, school improvement and lower risk of early school leaving and greater educational aspirations. It also contributes to cognitive and social development and a stimulating home learning environment for all families, and for disadvantaged families in particular. Moreover, parental involvement in school, and positive parent-teacher interactions, have also been found to positively affect teachers’ self-perception and job satisfaction [1]. However, current levels of parental involvement vary among different groups of parents and countries in Europe.

Implications for education

Many factors may limit the quality of parental involvement in a child’s learning process, both on structural and practical levels. Educators may be primarily focused on their teaching load, not sufficiently prepared to develop fruitful partnerships with parents and have or make too little time for reaching out to parents. Teachers may often lack the knowledge and experience needed to engage in a dialogue with parents, especially with those coming from a disadvantaged or minority background [2] [3]. This in turn can serve as an obstacle for parents becoming more involved in a child’s education process. They may not get support from teachers and report feeling misunderstood or even unwelcome in school [4]. In addition, work commitments and time constraints, such as competing commitments between work and school meetings, may also limit parental involvement in a child’s learning process [5] [2]. Furthermore, there is an observed tendency that single-parents, families with low socioeconomic status or low educational background tend to be less involved in their children’s education process and do not always understand what role they might have in their child’s learning. Also, low proficiency in the state language/language of instruction may hinder communication between parents from a minority and/or migrant background and educators [5].

Recommendations

Responsibility for children’s development and learning is shared between different stakeholders especially in the light of growing diversity in classrooms when dialogue and openness/respect for different views is crucial for a positive learning environment. Having in mind the importance of parental involvement in a child’s learning process and various barriers limiting it, research evidence shows that it would be useful to make further progress in: changing educators’ attitudes on parental engagement and increasing their understanding of its importance, as well as allowing the time necessary for educators to promote and invest in dialogue with parents and strengthening their preparedness and ability to establish effective methods for parental involvement, in particular with parents of different social, economic or cultural backgrounds [2] [6] [7] [8]; searching for innovative, flexible ways of parental involvement in a child’s education process based on a close, respectful and knowledge-based approach by schools, teachers and NGOs, as well as the families that better match with the life and working conditions of the parents [2] [3] [9] [10]; raising awareness, among all parents, on why it is important to be involved in their child’s education process and on the different ways they can do so [2] [3].


 [1] Tschannen-Moran, M.; Hoy, A. W, ‘The differential antecedents of self-efficacy beliefs of novice and experienced teachers’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 23(6), 2007, pp. 944-956.

[2] European Commission, Directorate-General for Education and Culture, Study on the effective use of early childhood education and care (ECEC) in preventing early school leaving (ESL), Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2014.

[3] EdSource, The Power of Parents: Research underscores the impact of parent involvement in schools, 2014. PDF file

[4] Crépin, F.; Neuberg, F., Ce que des parents en situation de précarité disent de l’acceuil et de l’éducation des tout-petits [What Parents in a Precarious Situation Say About Education of the Very Young], KBS, Brussels, 2013.

[5] Critical Issue: Supporting Ways Parents and Families Can Become Involved in Schools, 27 May, 2015. Web Link

[6] EADSNE, Inclusive Education and Classroom Practice in Secondary Education, A Summary Report, 2005. PDF file

[7] UNESCO, Better Education for All: When we are included too, A Global Report, 2009. PDF file

[8] UNICEF, The Right of Children with Disabilities to Education: A Rights-Based Approach to Inclusive Education, UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEECIS), Geneva, 2012. PDF file

[9] ICDI and Bernard van Leer Foundation, ‘Parental involvement in early learning. A review of research, policy and good practice’, 2012. PDF file

[10] Walker, J. M. T.; Hoover-Dempsey, K. V.; Whetsel, D. R.; Green, C. L., ‘Parental Involvement in Homework. A Review of Current Research and Its Implications for Teachers, After School Program Staff, and Parent Leaders’, Harvard Family Research Project, 2004. Web Link