Edited by:           Frederik Smit             Hans Moerel        Kees van der Wolf           Peter SleegersBuilding bridg...
BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN HOME AND SCHOOL
ii   Building bridges between home and school
Building bridges between home and schoolEdited by:dr. Frederik Smitdrs. Hans Moerelprof. dr. Kees van der Wolfprof. dr. Pe...
iv                                                                Building bridges between home and schoolDe particuliere ...
PrefaceIn an increasing number o f countries schools         The participants came from many countries inbecome convinced ...
vi   Building bridges between home and school
ContentsPreface                                                                                                      vIntr...
viii                                                           Building bridges between home and schoolPart 2 - Schools’ p...
Introduction; building bridges between home andschoolThis volume is a collection of 25 essays, grouped    Adelina Villas-B...
2                                                         Building bridges between home and schoolThe contributions to thi...
Part 1Parents’ orientation on collaborationbetween home and school
4   Building bridges between home and school
Looking back, looking ahead: reflections on lessonsover twenty-five yearsDon DaviesFor the last 25 years my professional l...
6                                                                Building bridges between home and schoolinvolvement won’t...
Building bridges between home and school                                                                7participation in ...
8                                                               Building bridges between home and schoolhome, monitoring a...
Building bridges between home and school                                                                  9plan and carry ...
10                                                             Building bridges between home and schoolinclude them in dec...
Building bridges between home and school                                                               11So, my point here...
12                                                            Building bridges between home and schoolPalanki, A. and Burc...
Parent involvement in education: models, strategiesand contextsShawn Moore, Sue LaskyIn this paper, we explore the concept...
14                                                              Building bridges between home and schoolimportant if the d...
Building bridges between home and school                                                                 15yet be on the E...
16                                                               Building bridges between home and schoolChange extensive ...
Building bridges between home and school                                                                17practices, struc...
18                                                              Building bridges between home and schoolskills that will h...
‘I’m not clever. I listen to her read that’s all I can do’:parents supporting their children’s learningEmma Beresford, Sue...
20                                                             Building bridges between home and schoolPATs met both local...
Building bridges between home and school                                                              21system is very dif...
22                                                              Building bridges between home and schoolsomebody said to m...
Building bridges between home and school                                                                23their children t...
24                                                            Building bridges between home and schoolcan’; ‘if its maths ...
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school
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Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school

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‘Building bridges between home and school'
In this book you will find case studies, programmes, overviews and reviews of various kinds of involvement in a number of countries over the world. The main body is made up of the business of "building bridges" between home and school. The forms of involvement run from orientation to partnerships in specific subjects to systems, models and strategies for partnerships.

Contributors:
Ana Isabel Alvarez, Emma Beresford, Elzbieta Bielecka, Sue Botcherby, Victoria Casielles, Norberto Corral, Begoña Dona ire, Stelios Georgiou, Raquel-Amaya M artínez González, Jennifer Hartman, Gary Heywood-Everett, Pauline Huizenga, Ingebjörg Johanessen, Lesley Jones, Ann Kinkor, Leonidas Kyriakides, Cees Klaassen , Sue Lasky, Han Leeferink, Ronald Lippens, Donald Lueder, Olwen McNamara, Maria Mendel, Hans Moerel, Oliver Moles, Ton Mooij, Shawn Moore, Pirjo Nuutinen, Rhonda Payne, Marisa Pereira, Helen Phtiaka, Daniel Safran, Peter Sleegers, Ed Smeets, Frederik Smit, Martha Allexsaht-Snider, Annemiek Veen, Adelina Villas-Boas, Babara Wilson, Kees van der Wolf.
Editors: Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf en Peter Sleegers.
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Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf & Peter Sleegers (1999). Building bridges between home and school

  1. 1. Edited by: Frederik Smit Hans Moerel Kees van der Wolf Peter SleegersBuilding bridges between home and school
  2. 2. BUILDING BRIDGES BETWEEN HOME AND SCHOOL
  3. 3. ii Building bridges between home and school
  4. 4. Building bridges between home and schoolEdited by:dr. Frederik Smitdrs. Hans Moerelprof. dr. Kees van der Wolfprof. dr. Peter SleegersINSTITUTE FOR APPLIED SOCIAL SCIENCESUNIVERSITY NIJMEGENSCO/KOHNSTAMM INSTITUTE
  5. 5. iv Building bridges between home and schoolDe particuliere prijs van deze uitgave is ƒ 25,00.Deze uitgave is te bestellen bij het ITS, 024 - 365 35 00.Address:Institute for Applied Social SciencesToernooiveld 5P.O. Box 90486500 KJ Nijmegenthe NetherlandsTo order the book:International telephone ++ 31 24 365 35 00International fax ++ 31 24 365 35 99Email receptie@its.kun.nlCIP-GEGEVENS KONINKLIJKE BIBLIOTHEEK DEN HAAGBuilding bridges between home and school. / dr. F. Smit, drs. H. Moerel, prof. dr. K. van der Wolf &prof. dr. P. Sleegers - Nijmegen: ITSISBN 90 - 5554 - 12 8 - 1NUGI 722© 1999 ITS, Stichting Katholieke Universiteit te NijmegenBehoudens de in of krachtens de Auteurswet van 1912 gestelde uitzonderingen mag niets uit deze uitgaveworden verveelvuldigd en/of openbaar gemaakt door middel van druk, fotokopie, microfilm of op welkeandere wijze dan ook, en evenmin in een retrieval systeem worden opgeslagen, zonder de voorafgaandeschriftelijke toestemming van het ITS van de Stichting Katholieke Universiteit te Nijmegen.No part of this book/publication may be reproduced in any form, by prin t, photoprint, microfilm or any othermeans without written permission from the publisher.
  6. 6. PrefaceIn an increasing number o f countries schools The participants came from many countries inbecome convinced that good partnerships Europe including representatives from Poland,between parents and com munities are necessary Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria and also Cyprus. Fromin behalf of the optimization of pupils’ outside Europe the United States of America anddevelopment opportunities, the enhancement of Canada were represented. Th e participants werepupils’ educational careers and the improvement not only researchers but also representedof teachers’ task performance. ministries of education, parent organisations and schools.ERNAPE (European Research Network AboutParents in Education) is an association of research Two researchers from the ITS, in collaborationnetworks in the area of education, in particular with specialists on parent participation from theabout parents in education. In 1993 the University Nijmegen and the SCO-Kohnstammassociation was established w ith the aim to share Institute have brought together in this volume theresearch results, stimulate research at all levels. recent scientific and social developme nts inA first conference ‘Education is Partnership’ was relation to the collaboration between families,held in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1996. school and comm unity.On 18 and 19 November 1999, the secondroundtable conference ‘Building bridges between I hope that this volume will contribute to ahome and school’ was organised at the University stronger reciprocal relationship between schoolsof Amsterdam, Netherlands . During this and their surroundings to meet the challenges forconference the current state of affairs, models, the new millennium.strategies, legislation, experiences andexperiments concerning home-schoolpartnerships were discussed.ITSNijmegen/Amsterdam, November 1999prof. dr. H.P.J.M. Dekkersact. Director
  7. 7. vi Building bridges between home and school
  8. 8. ContentsPreface vIntroduction; building bridges between home and school 1Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Kees van der Wolf, Peter SleegersPart 1 - Parents’ orientation on collaboration between home and school 3Looking back, loo king ahead: reflection on lesson s over twenty-five years, don davies 5Parents involvement in edu cation: models, strategies and contex ts, Shawn Moore, Sue Lasky 13‘I’m not clever. I listen to her read that’s all I can do’: parents supporting their children’s learning, Emma Beresford, Sue Botcherby and Olwen McNamara 19Who gets involv ed and who does n’t, Stelios Georgiou 27Overcoming barriers to family inv olvement in low-income area sc hools, Oliver Moles 31Experiments with the role of paren ts in primary education in the Nethe rlands, Frederik Smit, Hans Moerel, Peter Sleegers 37Research on the relationship b etween migrant parents and p rimary schools, Annemiek Veen 43Parental/community involvement and behaviour problems in Dutch secondary schools, Kees van der Wolf, Ronald Lippens, Pauline Huizenga 47Information project developm ent work - cooperation betw een home and scho ol, Ingebjörg Johanessen 53‘Parents at School’ programme as a perspective of partnership’s orientation increase in Poland, Maria Mendel 59
  9. 9. viii Building bridges between home and schoolPart 2 - Schools’ perspective on collaboration between fam ilies, school and comm unity 67Home-school agreem ents: the business of partnership, Gary Heywood-Everett 69A system for planning and implementing family/school/community partnerships, Donald Lueder 77Connecting studen t achievement to teaching stand ards and family, school, community partnerships, Jennifer Hartman, Ann Kinkor, Babara Wilson & Rhonda Payne 81A prospective overview on school/family/comm unity partnerships in 25 prima ry schools in Portugal, Adelina Villas-Boas 85Pedagogical attunemen t: parents, teachers and the pedagog ical assignment of the school, Cees Klaassen & Han Leeferink 89Being power partners, Pirjo Nuutinen 95Partnership in action: an evaluation of a school policy on parents working with their own children in school, Leonidas Kyriakides 103Teacher, tutor, parent: the eternal triangle?, Helen Phtiaka 111Part 3 - Specific aspects of collaboration between home and school 121Assessing entry characteristics in Kindergarten, Ton Mooij & Ed Sm eets 123Home-school partnersh ip in primary mathematics: a sociolog ical analysis, Andrew Brown 131Parents and mathematics education reform: a U.S. case-study, Martha Allexsaht-Snider 141The school as an active partner in en vironmental work?, Elzbieta Bielecka 145Parents school partnership programs to assist refugees and other vulnerable populations, Daniel Safran 153Patterns of academic support: som e findings from a home scho ol numeracy project with Somali families living in Londo n, Lesley Jones 159Drug consumptio n prevention: parents perspec tive, Raquel-Amaya M artínez González, Marisa Pereira, Norberto Corr al, Begoña Dona ire, Ana Isabel Alvarez, Victoria Casielles 165
  10. 10. Introduction; building bridges between home andschoolThis volume is a collection of 25 essays, grouped Adelina Villas-Boas gives a prospective overviewinto three parts, on the theme of building bridges on school/family/community partnerships in 25between home and school. primary schools in Portugal. Cees Klaassen enThe first part contains a parents’ orientation and Han Leeferink present the results of research in toreflection on partnerships between home and pedagogical attunement between schools andschool (Don Davies), models, strategies and families. Pirjo Nuutinen reports what Finnishcontexts (Shawn Mo ore, Sue Lasky), parents teachers think about their power position.supporting their children’s learning (Emma Leonidas Kyriakides presents findings of anBeresford, Sue Botcherby, Olwen McNamara) evaluation of a primary schoo l in Cyprus toand possible predictors of parental involvement develop a policy for parents w orking with their(Stelios Georgiou). Oliver Moles describes own children in school. Helen Phtiaka gives anovercoming barriers to family invo lvement in example of the triangle: teacher, tutor, parent inlow-income area schools. Frederik Smit, Hans Cyprus.Moerel, Peter Sleegers give an overview of typesof experiments with the role of parents in primary The third part reports on a number ofeducation in the Netherlands. investigations related to specific aspects ofThe research of Annemiek Veen consists on the collaboration between ho me and school. Tonrelationship between migran t parents and primary Mooij and Ed Sme ets studied assessing entryschools. Kees van der Wolf, Ronald Lippens and characteristics in Kindergarten Andrew BrownPauline Huizenga explored questions about presents a sociological analysis of home-schoolparental/community involvement and behaviour partnership in primary mathematics. Marthaproblems in Dutch secondary schools. The study Allexsaht-Snider presents an analysis of schoolof Ingebjörg Johanessen concerns successful and parents involved in mathematics educationinteraction between home an d school. Maria reform in the U.S. Elzbieta Bielecka describesMendel describes a ‘parents at scho ol’ some environmental projects in Poland aimed atprogramme. improving children’s perform ance at school. Daniel Safran gives a description of parent schoolThe second part is devoted to the school partnership programs to assist refugees and otherperspective on collaboration between families, vulnerable populations. Lesley Jones discussesschool and comm unity. Home-school agreemen ts some findings from a home school nummeracyis studied by Gary Hey wood-Everett. Donald project with Somali families living in London.Lueder presents a strategic planning system. The Raquel-Amaya Martínez González, Marisagroup Jennifer Hartman, Ann Kinkor, Barbara Pereira, Norberto Corral, Begoña Donaire, AnaWilson and Rhonda Payne describes an Isabel Alvarez, Victoria Casielles describe theinnovative partnership pro gram in California. family role in drug consumption prevention.
  11. 11. 2 Building bridges between home and schoolThe contributions to this volume were presented and Education (ERNAPE) held in Amsterdamat the European Research Network About Parents (the Netherlands) on November 18-19, 1999.Frederik SmitHans MoerelKees van der WolfPeter Sleegers
  12. 12. Part 1Parents’ orientation on collaborationbetween home and school
  13. 13. 4 Building bridges between home and school
  14. 14. Looking back, looking ahead: reflections on lessonsover twenty-five yearsDon DaviesFor the last 25 years my professional life has been US and several other countries and thedominated by my work for the Institute for opportunity to work with and learn from dozensResponsive Education, which I founded in 1973 of other researchers and advocates doing similarto study and promo te family, community, school work. The International Roundtables, whichpartnerships. I embarked on th is work after 5 Joyce Epstein and I initiated mo re than ten yearsyears as an official in the US education ago have been a particularly rich source ofdepartment, and several years as official of the learning from scholars and practitioners in manylargest American teachers’ union, the National other countries.Education Association. Before that I was engaged This Roundtable in Amsterdam offers me thein teacher education in universities and in opportunity to reflect back on those 25 years ofteaching in high school. These years in education studies and projects in several countries and onconvinced me that really goo d education for all what I have been able to learn from o therschildren, rich and poor, was only going to be working in this field. Wha t I want to do in thispossible if families and commu nities became full brief paper is to identify and discuss a few of thepartners with schools in the enterp rise. lessons that seem especially important to me.I have come to see that all parts of the child’s These are reflections and interpretations, basedworld must share respons ibility for the child’s only partly on research and colored by ownlearning and development. This concept of shared perspectives, values, and opinions. I will alsoresponsibility is seen by some as a radical idea, draw to a limited extent on papers presented atand by others as unrealistic. The majority opinion earlier Roundtables. So, how do schools andby academics and educators is that the jobs of families and communities make partnershipsschools and families and co mmunities are happen. I’ll offer a few brief thoughts andbasically separate and should be kept that way. recommendations.And, yet for me, this concept of sharedresponsibility, is at the heart of all the efforts I Look first to the teachershave made over the years. Partnerships work best if teachers are given help,I also became convinced that good partnerships support, and training. If increased involvement ofbetween schools, parents an d communities are families and community organizations andpossible in all kinds of schools and communities agencies with the schools is the aim, why worry‘pre-school, elementary, urban, rural, rich and first about the teachers? The answer: Teacherspoor. I know this because we have good can make or break any effort to change theexamples all across the US and overseas. traditional separation of schools from the families(Unhappily, partnerships are still the exception and communities they serve. I have seen this inand not the rule, as can be seen in the recent 1997 many American schools and in IRE’s recentOECD report on the status of parent involvement cross-national study in five countries.in nine countries.) My wo rk over these 25 years Without teacher interest, support, and skill muchhas involved dozens of studies and projects in the of that that is commonly known as parent
  15. 15. 6 Building bridges between home and schoolinvolvement won’t work. For most parents in the teachers for partnership has been addressed byworld, the teacher is the primary and sometimes several participants in the Internationalthe only connection to the school and holds the Roundtables in Europe and the US, includingkey to good com munication. Yet, often plans for Deanna Evans-Schilling, Joyce Epstein, Marthapartnerships are developed with little or no Allexsaht-Snider, and Dan Safran from the US,teacher input and teachers are told ‘Here is our Helen Phtiaka, Cyprus, and Birte Ravn, Denmark.new parent involvement project, funded by this orthat foundation or government. So, teacher, just Make it officialdo it.’ Sometimes they do it, but o ften they don’t. Partnerships work best when they have theThe apparently natural and almost universal official sanction of written policies.teacher concern about professional status and Like it or not, schools are bureaucratic andexpertise and traditional resistance to outsider conservative institutions. They mostly live byinfluence is difficult to overcome. We saw rules and policies. So, if you want to haveteacher resistance and fear of losing professional teachers and administrators reach ou t to parentsstatus as a factor in many of the schools in a and to community institutions, there should berecent cross-national study, across five very written policies which recomm end or mandatedifferent cultures and national traditions. We saw such activities and provide guidelines for howin all of the countries that teachers were proud of such partnerships might be established andtheir expertise and wanted to protect their own maintained.turf (Davies and Johnson 1996).What is needed? Teacher education institutions I have seen that it is helpful to have com patibleneed to prepare future teachers to wo rk positively written policies in support of partnersh ips at allwith parents and community agencies and levels, national, state or province, local district,institutions and to learn how families and the and individual school. It is also useful whencommunity can benefit the teacher and the supportive policies are negotiated into teacherstudents. New teachers learn through instruction union contracts.and experience that partnerships with parents andcommunity agencies d oes not diminish their Another way of achieving official sanction forprofessional expertise or status but in fact can partnership practices is to win the support andenhance these. positive endorsement of the head of the school.Once he or she starts to teach the new teacher There are many case studies, including the actionneeds to be given positive encouragement by research studies of the Institute for Responsiveother teachers and school adm inistrators to Education for the Center on F amilies, that supportengage in the desired partnersh ip activities, and to this belief (Palanki and Burch, 1995). My ownbe protected if and when things go wrong. experience is dotted with many both positive andTeachers on the job also need specific training, negative examples of the powerful influence ofinformation, and recognition when they are asked the school principal on efforts to initiate orto undertake new kinds of partnership activities sustain school, family, community partnershipsuch as student homes, using parents as efforts.volunteers in the classroom, or participating on adecision-making committee with parent Having laws and written policies is not enough,representatives. And, when a new policy or of course. These must be implemented andproject is to be launched, teachers must be enforced. For example, Smit and van Eschinvolved in planning for it. The issue of preparing reported that not many of the goals of
  16. 16. Building bridges between home and school 7participation in their country were being realized (Pizzaro 1992). But, my o wn experience in(Smit and van Esch, 199 2). Izabel Solomon in schools suggests that many administrators andAustralia discovered that the official structures teachers still see parent involvement as acreated by national government have produced a marginal activity ‘nice,’ but not central to thelot of rhetoric but little action. school’s instructional goals and many school reform programs give only a little attention toFocus on children’s learning parents and the commu nity.Partnerships work best wh en improved children’slearning is seen as the main goal by teachers, Provide for a diverse opportunitiesparents, and community agencies. The Partnerships work best wh en they arepartnership idea is most acceptable to comprehensive. Joyce Epstein developed andpolicymakers if they believe that such tested a five part typology for parent involvementpartnerships contribute to children ’s academic and then expanded it to include a sixth type ofsuccess in school. This is usually true for partnership involving exchanges with theteachers, community agen cies, and parents community. This typology was used in many ofthemselves. There is a good evidence that the studies of the Center on Families,connects various kind s of partnerships with Communities, Schools, and Children’s Learningstudent learning, if those partnerships are well (Epstein 1992). My own experience and studiesdesigned and carefully implemented. suggest that a wide range of o pportunities, both in the school and the hom e and the community isJoyce Epstein has reported th at when schools needed to meet the diverse interests, needs, andinform parents about children’s acad emic conditions of the variety of families in mostprogress in schools, their expec tations for their communities. For many families, supporting theirchild’s success goes up. Epstein’s work on children’s learning at home and in the communityhomework has sh own that families are more is more attractive and feasible than attendinglikely to be able to help their children with events or committee meetings in the school.academic work at home if teachers give Nancy Chavkin reported that non-traditionalhomework assignments that are interactive, activities outside the school attracted moreprovide clear and specific information about the parents than activities organized in the schoolcontent and methods being used in the classroom, (Chavkin 1992). Few schools actually undertakeand offer encouragement along with written a comprehensive approach. The efforts I see arematerials and guidelines. often piecemeal, a series of programs, events, or small projects. I have seen good results fromDozens of International Roundtable presentations using Epstein’s typology planning tool, whichover the years have focused on how parents and encourages those invo lved to consider all sixcommunity agencies ca n promote children’s types of involvement, inclu ding: 1) The basiclearning. One example has been the work of Raul obligations for child-rearing, building positivePizzaro in Chile who has conducted and reported home conditions that su pport children’son several studies of the effects of home development; 2) Basic obligations of schools forinterventions on studen t achievement in communicating about school programs andmathematics and Spanish and has concluded that children’s progress; 3) Family involvement atfamilies and schools can wo rk together to school as volunteers, aides, audiences for studentenhance students’ cogn itive achievement performances, participants in meetings and social events; 4) Involvement in learning activities at
  17. 17. 8 Building bridges between home and schoolhome, monitoring and assisting children; 5) My own experience suggests strongly thatInvolvement in governance, decision-making and partnerships work best wh en the relationshipadvocacy in school-based organizations and in between schools and community organizationsthe community; 6) Collaboration and exchanges and agencies is really an exchange, not justbetween the school and the community (Epstein community groups or business doing things for1992). Ultimately, a comprehensive approach can the schools. The schools and their staffs haveand should lead to a change in the culture of the much to offer to other agencies and otherschool and its connections with families and the community residents, inclu ding access to theircommunities. There are some examples of such physical facilities (such as computer labs, g yms);culture change in several countries. One of the access to their expertise, teachers andbest examples is the Patrick O’Hearn School in administrators who offer their talents and skills toBoston. The altered culture in this sch ool is the community; and students who serve thenoticed by even the most casual visitors to the community in service projec ts. The relationshipschool and described in IRE’s report on its action between schools and their communities should beresearch projects (Palanki and Bu rch 1995). reciprocal. This reciprocal relationship means more than the community contributing to theAll families need help sometime child and to the school. It must also mean that thePartnerships work best when the schools and school contributes to the economic and socialhealth and social service agencies join together to development of the com munity. A trueplan how best the need s of the children and their partnership involves an exchange of resources.families can be served. I see family literacy programs as another form ofThere is no one best way that schools can link family support. Many participants in Internationalwith community age ncies. But the point is that all Roundtables have described various approachesfamilies need support and help at one time or to intergenerational literacy including Trevoranother ‘some need more help than others and Carney, Jacqueline McGilp, and Derek Toomeyneed it more often’ if schools want to h elp all from Australia; Lorrie Connors-Tadros, and Ruthchildren succeed they need to be concerned about Handle and Ellen Goldsmith from the US; andmeeting the non-academic health and social Adelina Villas Boas from Portugal. Many of theservice needs of the children and the families. projects reported aim to raise parents’ awarenessThere is much research evidence, bolstered by of the important role that they play in their ch ild’smuch common sense, that academic achievement language developm ent and help them learn tryis linked to health, emotional stability, nutrition, practical ways to help their children read better.sleep of children and to the social and healthconditions of the home . It is obvious that schools A room of their owncannot meet all the complex so cial and health Partnerships work best wh en there are visibleneeds of the children and families they serve and signs and symbo ls of welcome in the school itselfmust enlist to other community agencies and and when there are practical organizational meansinstitutions. There are many prom ising models in of planning and carrying out partnershipthe US and other coun tries that point the way to activities. Family or parent centers fill this needcoordinated or shared services. Some of these for a symbol of welcome and for a location andmodels and their results have b een reported in capacity for organizing partnership activities.various of our International Roundtables. Such centers are a low-cost, easy-to-manage way to make schools more h ospitable to parents, to
  18. 18. Building bridges between home and school 9plan and carry out activities, and to serve as a middle-class and affluent children and childrenhandy locale for parent-to-parent and who are poor, black, Hispanic, and low-incomeparent-to-teacher communication . white families. This report by the Education TrustIn the US and a few other cou ntries they are argues that raising standards of academic contentfunctioning for many dif ferent purposes: and performance for all children is both possibleoperating food banks; providing libraries for and essential (Education Trust 1996).parents with books, toys, computer hardware and Well executed partnerships can help schoolssoftware; clothing exchanges; language classes; reach those parents they cons ider hardest toand workshops and support groups for parents. reach. These are very often families that are poor,Vivian Johnson, wh o was one of the researchers from minority groups, or considered outside offor the Center on Families, Communities, the mainstream. I have seen many successfulSchools, and Children’s learning and a frequent efforts to ‘reach the hardest to reach,’ but I haveparticipant in International Roundtables, has also seen what Derek Toomey has been warningstudied parent/family centers and reported on us about for several years: that parenttheir effectiveness (Johnson 19 93). involvement program s, if they reach and help more affluent, middle-class families and theirReaching the hard to reach children can actually widen and not narrow thePartnerships work best wh en they are designed to gap between the have’s and the have nots.benefit all children and families, across lines of Toomey writes: I believe that many parentrace, ethnicity, social class, and family income. I involvement programs in schools fail to includesee the gap between the hav es and the have-nots the hardest-to-reach families and that often theseis the most important political, social, and families are not able to give the suppo rt to theireducational problem that the w orld faces as it children’s education they w ould like to be able tostarts the new millennium. Edu cators in every give’ (Toomey, 1992).place must make sure that progress toward higher This warning leads me as I look ahead tostandards of academic content and performance recommend that educators and organizationsfor students is shared across lines of race and concerned about narrowing the economic andsocial class. We must make sure that the social class gaps pay special attention towonderful new ben efits of technology don’t designing diverse and imaginative strategiesfurther widen the already large gaps between the aimed at those families who are often left beh ind.poor and the affluent.This means finding way s to help all students Partnership also means power-sharingachieve, despite economic d isadvantage. It is Partnerships work best wh en democraticimportant to ask parents to work hard not only for principles are applied.the interests of better education for their own These principles which include involving familieschildren but also for better schools for all and other community residents in planning andchildren. I must point out with co nsiderable making decisions about their schools and aboutembarrassment that the US has the widest gap how partnerships should be set up and managedbetween rich and poor families (and the gap has so that family members are seen as partners notincreased in recent years). The country offers ‘outsiders’ clients (for whom you do something).fewer and less generous social programs for When educators b egin to see families as partnersfamilies and children than other countries. and not just ‘clients,’ I find that they will discoverThere is an important new study which ways to involve them in governance anddocuments the achievement gap between decision-making proces ses. This means they will
  19. 19. 10 Building bridges between home and schoolinclude them in decision-making about budgets, issues and represent parent interests as well aspersonnel, and curriculum. T hey will tap their school interests.opinions through surveys, focus groups, Another very important form of power-sharing orconferences, and telephon e hot lines. They will parent/community influen ce on schools iskeep them informed about problems and issues. through independent organizations such asWe know that active or passive resistance will be community develo pment associations and ch ildfound to such participation w hich leads to advocacy groups . These groups can give p arentspower-sharing, but those school leaders who take and others in the community a stronger voice onthe risks involved usually find that the benefits school matters. The importance of parent andoutweigh the costs. The benefits include better community organizations working on schooldecisions, decisions that are more w idely issues goes beyond helping the school. There is asupported, a stronger sense of parent and broader social benefit. I have been struck by thecommunity ownership of school programs, and work of Robert Putnam of Harvard Universityincreased political support from parents and the who has demonstrated that one important elementcommunity. To make power sharing workable of a civil society and stronger comm unities isand realistic requires a careful re-design of the networks of civic associations. In h is research indecision-making structures u sually found in Italy over a decade Putnam has demonstratedschools and larger districts in which schools are empirically the direct link between the existenceembedded. Many studies have shown that many of a network of civic associations an d economicadvisory or decision-mak ing committees that are productivity and the flourishing of democracy.set up become only tokens or are dominated by By civic associations he means organizationsthe educators. We know also that many structures such as parent groups, local choruses andset up are dominated by the most sophisticated orchestras, sports clubs, neighborhood councils,and well-educated members of a schools parent and community organizations working on schoolcommunity. issues (Putnam 1994 , 1997).One way to increase meaningful family and Putnam points out that the quality of public lifecommunity participation in d ecision-making is to and the performance of social institutions (e.g.decentralize important decisions from the center schools and families) in America an d elsewhereto the individual school. Another is to broaden are powerfully influenced by norms and networksthe kinds of opportun ities and structures. On this of civic engagement, which he and others callpoint, I have been influenced by the work of social capital.Philip Woods of the Open University in England Putnam’s work corrobo rates the political theorywho provided a framework for thinking about of ‘civic humanism,’ which means that a strongparent roles and aspirations which includes: and free government depends on a virtuous andtransforming the way services are provided, public spirited citizenry and a civic com munitymaking choices abou t which school to send th eir that supports the governm ent. To reach such achildren to; making sure the school is meeting the goal and sustain it a society must create educationneeds the parents want it to; letting service for its citizens that emphasizes good citizenship.providers know their views; seeking to influence While America has often been credited as being aor take part in the school decision-making model for democracy and citizen activism,process (Woods 1993). Strong parent associations Putnam notes that civic participation in ouror parent-teacher organizations can help provide country has declined markedly in the past foursome parents with a stronger voice in school decades. Reversing this decline is both anaffairs, if these groups address important school educational and political challenge.
  20. 20. Building bridges between home and school 11So, my point here is that collaboration between some practice developed elsew here; rather what isschools, families, and communities is one transposed is the basic idea, a model ‘one mightstrategy that can be helpful in demo cratic even say a metaphor’ which is then applied to thesocieties seeking to sustain and advance particular circumstances of the receiving society’democratic principles. Schools can make an (Renfrew 1976).important contribution by striving to give thefamilies they serve a variety of opportun ities to Final wordsparticipate in setting policies about bud get, Educators must be optimists, and I am one, evenpersonnel, and programs, and in important though cynicism is alwa ys fashionable indecisions about the scho ol. academia and world even ts sometimes make it difficult for anyone to maintain his or herCross national exchanges do work optimism. My hop e is that my work and yo ursI think our International Roundtables have about partnerships and schools, families, anddemonstrated over and over that studies and communities is of more than trivial imp ortance. Aexamples in one coun try are useful to those in stronger, more positive reciprocal relationshipseeking to change po licies and practices in between schools and their communities can befamilies, communities, and schools in the forged, and those relationship s will helpdirection of partnership. This is what I call the educators and communities use the positive‘more distant mirror’ phenomenon. Looking at potential of education for good and humaneone’s problems and alternative s olutions at a purposes. As I look ahe ad my optimist’s hope isdistance seems to give policy-makers, planners, that we can harness the poten tial of education toadministrators, and researchers different ways of develop new generations that can escape thethinking about closer-to-home problems. legacies of violence, war, hatred of people whoResearch and successful practice in one country have different color, ethnicity, race, or religionoffer support for those who w ant to act to that the twentieth century has left for the comingimprove education in another. Some hundred years. I think that educational systemsanthropologists who have studied the process of that put the partnership idea in practice can h elpcultural change point out that ‘dif fusion does not to meet this challenge and the other challengestypically involve the replication in o ne society of that the new century will bring.ReferencesChavkin, Nancy (1992), Report on Two Projects Aiming to Examine the Connections among the Families. Communities, Schools, and Children’s Learning, paper presented at the Fourth Annual International Roundtable, San Francisco.Davies D. and John son, V. (ed.) (1996), Crossing Boundaries: Multi-National Action Research on Family-School Collaboration. Baltimore: Center on Families, Com munities, Schools and C hildren’s Learning.Education Trust (1996), Education Watch: The 1996 Education Trust State and National Data Book. Washington, DC: The Education Trust.Epstein, J.L.(1992), ‘School and Family Partnerships’, Encyclopedia of Educational Research, New York: Macmillan.Johnson, Vivian (1993), Parent/Family Centers: Dimensions of Functioning in 28 Schools in 14 States. Baltimore: Center on Families, Communities, Schools, and Children’s Learning, 1993.
  21. 21. 12 Building bridges between home and schoolPalanki, A. and Burch, P. (1995), In Our Hands: A Multi-Site Parent-Teacher Action Research Project, Boston: Center on Fa milies, Communities, Scho ols, and Children’s Learning, B oston University.Palanki, A. and Burch, P. (1995), In Our Hands: A Multi-Site Parent-Teacher Action Research Project, Boston: Center on Fa milies, Communities, Scho ols, and Children’s Learning, B oston University.Pizzaro, Raul S. (1992), Quality of Instruction, Hom e Environment, and Co gnitive Achievement. Paper presented at the Fourth Annual International Roundtable, San Francisco.Putnam, R. (1994), Making Democracy Work, Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Putnam, R. (1997), Bowling Alone: Amer ica’s Declining Social Cap ital. An Interview with Rob ert Putnam, Journal of Dem ocracy (on line).Renfrew, C. (1976), Before Civilization,(Harmond sworth, UK Pengu in, in G. Room, Innova tion in Social Policy: European Perspectives on the Evaluation of Action Research, New York: St. Martin’s.Smit, Frederik and van Esch , Wil (1992), Parents and School Governing Boards in the Netherlands, paper presented at the Fourth Annual International Roundtable, San Francisco.Izabel Solomon, Policy Analysis and Community Relations, paper presented at the Fourth Annual International Round table, San Francisco.Toomey, Derek (1992), ‘Can We Involve Parents in their Children’s Literacy Developmen t with Reach-out Activities?’ paper presented at the Fourth Annual International Roundtable, San Francisco.Woods, Phillip (1993), Parents as Consumer Citizens. Paper presented at the Fifth Annual International Roundtable. Atlanta.
  22. 22. Parent involvement in education: models, strategiesand contextsShawn Moore, Sue LaskyIn this paper, we explore the conceptual, culture between home and school, andempirical and strategic literature related to parent institutional barriers are bound to arise. Involvinginvolvement in educatio n. Parent involvement in parents as partners requires an understanding ofschooling has traditionally taken many forms parents’ perceptions of schoo ling, theirincluding parents helping their children with aspirations for their children, their approach tohomework, parent-teacher interviews, parent parenting, their expectations of teachers, an d theirnights, special consultation on student problems, concept of their role and respons ibilities.parent councils, and parent volunteer help in the We first examine child-parent interactions bothschool and the classroom. Some evidence inside and outside the home through thesuggests that activities of this nature can have theoretical lens of stages in a child’s cognitive,beneficial effects on student learning. From a emotional and social development, explore thesocio-cultural perspective, however, we will barriers that divide teachers and parents, paren tsreview other evidence indicating that traditional and schools, and parents and their children,relationships between teachers and parents can identify the socio-cultural factors that influencealso perpetuate a power imbalance in favour of school-parent understanding, and proposeteachers. In recent years, teachers’ relationships strategic approaches that can enhancewith parents have become more uncertain and communication, community and partnershipscontentious. Parents are becom ing more between parents, teachers and schools. In ourquestioning and critical about issues of consideration of the empirical literature, we paidcurriculum, the quality of instruction and special attention to exemplary stud ies and modelspractices used to assess and evalu ate their which have received auth oritative recognition inchildren. Home-school relationships are changing the field and cutting edge research that providesfor a multitude of reasons including greater new insights into parent-teacher interaction . Wediversity of the parent population , changes in argue that the structures of schooling must sh iftfamily structures, increasing school ch oice, more from closed and protectionist to open andparental involvement in the governance of inclusionary if parent-teacher partnerships are toschools, new methods of assessment and flourish over time and benefit children.reporting, and special education legislation. Second, we consider the implications of theThese developments have implications for parent conceptual and empirical literature for theinvolvement and stud ent achievement. organization and substance of the EQAOFormulating new strategies for inv olving parents (Education Quality and Accountability Office)in their children’s learning is particularly grade 3 and grade 6 Home Questionnaires.important during this time of profound social Surveys are important, commonly used tools forchange and educational reform in Ontario, gathering information abou t how parents arenationally and internationally. Since parents are involved in their children’s learning and the kindnot a homogeneous group, conflicts concerning of modelling they provide in the learning process.expectations between parents and teachers, The validity and reliability of such instru ments is
  23. 23. 14 Building bridges between home and schoolimportant if the data are to be trusted for making significant ways. Our review ex plores whereclaims, predictions, and policy decisions. The parent involvement is conceptually andHome Questionnaire operates concurrently in a structurally positioned within the educationalwider context of demographic and educational change process. In this regard, the experiences ofchange. Socio-cultural meanings embedded in the educators and parents in other jurisdictions can bequestions may resonate with some parents, but highly relevant in the Ontario context. Theconfound others. We analyzed the Home changes occurring in pu blic schooling in OntarioQuestionnaires in relation to literature on parent today are, in part, the result of pressures frominvolvement and what is known to date about parents themselves. We need to keep this in mindbest practice. We argue that the Home as we explore the concepts, m odels and contextsQuestionnaire needs to reflect the socio-cultural of parent involvement in ed ucation.experiences of parents as a diverse group andthat the ability to disaggregate these parent data Objectivesaccording to key demographic variables can - conduct a critical review of the conceptual anddeepen our understanding of the dynamics of methodological literature in order to assessparents’ involvement (or lack thereof) in the parent involvement and its relation to schoolhome and in the sch ool. achievement, including the role of family andFinally, our review takes place in a climate of school demography.tumultuous change on the educational landscape - evaluate empirical findings concerning thein Ontario as well as concurrent sweeping relationship between different forms of parenteducational changes in other Canadian provinces involvement and student motivation, learningand countries. These changes reflect paradoxical and success.forces of centralization and decentralization. In - elucidate how patterns of parent inv olvement inOntario, for example, the ministry has centralized education vary according to differences ineducational taxing and sch ool funding while social class, language, traditions, ethnoculturaldecentralizing power to school councils. It has background, and family type (e.g., singlecentralized and standardized curriculum and parent, blended family).reporting while decentralizing responsibilities for - engage critically with the EQAO grade 3 andimplementing these new policies. The reform grade 6 parent surveys bas ed on the literature.scenario has provoked spirited debate in the - conceptualize alternative models of parentprovince on the future of public education involvement in education from a synthesis ofincluding the role of parents in schooling. Some theoretical frameworks, empirical findings, andclaim that current educational chang es in Ontario practical considerations.are ‘progressive’ in response to changing - identify strategic implications of empiricalcommunity demographics, the need for greater findings for enhancing communicationsaccountability to parents, and the requirements of between parents and teachers and promotinga competitive global economy. Other observers, parent involvement in their children ’s learning.however, are critical of current reforms as narrowin scope, regressive in terms of teaching and Design and methodologylearning, and insensitive to the day-to-day We began with a global search of the literature onrealities of teachers’ professional lives. In any ‘parent involvement’ - including databases andevent, educators, parents and students are caught websites. We also searched the most currentup in a time of political crisis and uncertainty in editions of about 20 of the m ost relevant journalseducation, which is affecting their relationships in of education for relevant articles that would not
  24. 24. Building bridges between home and school 15yet be on the ERIC database. Then, we organized practice’. Rather, we identify and discussstudies according to major questions under alternative strategies in relation to empiricalinvestigation: parents’ views, models of parent findings, concepts and authoritative models.involvement, school demographics, reporting, There are some excellent handbooks that sufficeand best practice. In so doing, we focussed on as strategic guides. However, research findingswhat the concept of ‘parent involvement’ means suggest repeatedly that understanding particularfrom the perspectives of parents, teachers and family cultures, particular school environmentsresearchers as well as different levels in the and particular teachers’ perceptions is essentialsystem - home, school, board and province. As to designing effective approaches to parentwe probed deeper into the literature, we identified involvement. In this regard, we found some casebarriers of culture, language, race, power, and studies where claims of successful partnershipsbureaucracy that tend to keep parents safely on are made. We also discovered some unsettlingthe margins of schooling. In our analysis of accounts of parent-teacher conflict and alienation,findings concerning parent involvement across a where partnerships have failed to materializemultitude of school and home contexts, we because of distrust and political tensions -identified key themes. Theory helps to explain sometimes bitter and prolong ed. As well,variability in findings across contexts. For conflicting beliefs about rights, expertise, abilitiesexample, Waller’s assertion that parents and and cultural stereotypes cast teachers and parentsteachers are natural antagonists (parents being into ‘adversarial’ rather than collaborativeoriented to their child and teachers oriented to a relationships. Although, prescriptive guidelineschild as part of a group) gets to the heart of the cannot be expected take into account all thesedynamics of many parent-teacher struggles. complexities and variabilities, clearly written,However, Waller’s notion does not fully account informative documentation for parents is anfor differences in how parents and teach ers important component in communicating with andperceive one another throug h different socio- supporting parents invo lvement in their children’scultural lenses. Motivational, cultural and learning. In summary, the specific steps in ourorganizational theories also come into play. We methodological appro ach were as follows:intentionally selected exemplary studies, a few of A. Assessment of empirical research findings onwhich provide rare, revealing glimpses into the parent involvement accord ing to:social organization of parent-teacher interaction. - demographic and cultural variation in typesIdeally, parents and teachers can learn to of parents by class, race, culture, gender, andunderstand and appreciate the world from the family type;other’s perspective. However, our examination of - ecological variation in school size, structure,parent-teacher relationships sugges ts that simply location (rural, urban, suburban), studentbringing parents into the teachers’ world may population, and setting (elementary/actually increase tensions without effective secondary).strategies professional development and parent B. Search databases (e.g., ERIC, includingeducation. Canadian Educational Index, AustralianWe examined the process as well as the substance Education Index, British Education Index;of parent involvement. Process refers to the ONTARIS) with focus on research on primaryconstantly changing dynamics of parent-teacher care giver / parent / parent involvement.relationships and parent-child relationships over C. Review books and refereed journal articles,time. We have not attempted to create a definitive including publications and reports connecteddictionary of ‘parent involvement’ or ‘best with International Centre for Educational
  25. 25. 16 Building bridges between home and schoolChange extensive research studies and findings educators depending on their ethno-cultural pointconcerning parent comm unication, relationship of view. In this regard, a very prominent them e inand involvement. the literature is the need to ground concepts ofD. Analysis of grade 3 and grade 6 parent parent involvement in relation to particular questionnaire instruments in terms of the individual and school demographics. The conceptual and empirical literature on parent literature we reviewed also reflects both the involvement. psychology and sociology of parent invo lvement.E. Professional contacts with key researchers On a psychological level, the focus of study is on and centres in the field for collaboration and the individual’s experiences, perceptions, research advice (e.g., Joyce Epstein, Centre on feelings, expectations, memories and aspirations School, Family and Community Partnerships, for the child’s education and their role in it. John Hopkins University). Almost all parents regardless of background, for example, want the best edu cation for theirKey questions children and try to be conscientious about helpingOur review of the literature was organized around them succeed. At the same time, parents oftena number of key questions outlined in our report feeling powerless, frustrated, andoriginal proposal to EQA O: marginalized from teachers and the schooling1. What are the most effective forms of parental process. Parents’ expectations of their children, involvement in relation to parents’ point of the teacher, the school and themselves are a view as well as demographic and ecological reflection of their own ethnocultural background factors? and their own experiences of schooling.2. What are the authoritative models of parent Likewise, teachers’ expectations of pa rents are relationship and how do they inform strategies shaped by their own ethnocultural experience, by for parents’ involvement in their children ’s their concern and responsibilities for ‘other learning? people’s children, and also by their professional3. How do parent and school demographics acculturation. modify the relations among other variables A socio-cultural perspective has b een the main such as parent interest and motiva tion to focus in our analysis of the literature on parent become involved in education? involvement. In this regard, the literature4. What is the role in reporting to paren ts in indicates that the cultural understandings and fostering assessment literacy and motivation realities of parents can conflict sharply with those for parents’ involvement? of teachers. Absence of or breakd own in5. What are best practices in terms of communication betw een parents and teachers is communication and involvement of parents in documented in many case studies and surveys. their children’s learning? Particularly, linguistic and bureaucratic barriers6. How well do the dimensions of the parent can silence minority parents voices. The evidence questionnaires for grade 3 and grade 6 reflect also suggests that training is lacking for both concepts in the literature, tap into parents’ life parents and teachers on how to work together. experience, enhance parents’ understandings Preservice and inservice have no t kept pace with and motivate parents’ involvement? rapidly changing dem ands and new partnersh ip roles in working with parents. On top of all ofDiscussion and conclusion this, administrators and teachers in On tario areParent involvement is an amorphous concept that under intense reform pressure from governmentcan mean very different things to parents and and parents to open their do ors, change their
  26. 26. Building bridges between home and school 17practices, structures, curriculum, and, in general, significant barriers to parent involvement, thebe more ‘accountable’ to the wider public. EQAO power for change rests mostly with schools andis playing an important role in this process of teachers where institutional power lies. Theeducational change. The evidence we reviewed exception to this assertion is parent politicalsuggests that schools are hav ing difficulty activism.transforming themselves into ‘learning Deficit models view parents and students from aorganizations’, which are flexible and responsive clinical position of greater knowledge andto the forces of demographic and political change. professionalism. Schools that reach out, openReform demands on teachers in Ontario over the their doors and implement practices of parentallast three years have been crushing and inclusion in part by adapting the school culture torelentless. This has resulted in many of teachers more closely fit the surrounding communityretreating from parents to protect themselves, culture, on the other hand, are laying therather than joining forces with them. In contrast, organizational groundw ork for meaningful,research on communication and best practice parent-teacher partnerships. Our review s uggestspoints time and time again to the need for the that the deficit model is alive and well whe n itstructures of schooling to change to more open, comes to inclusion of mino rity, single-parent andinclusive systems where partnerships between low socioeconomic status families. Proactiveteachers and parents are the norm, rather than approaches to parent invo lvement are difficultthe exception. and demanding for administrators and teachers.We have compared parents’ views with those of The evidence suggests that partnerships will notteachers and identified some of the most automatically produce harmonious relationships.significant factors in their relationships in terms First, parents are a very diverse populationof children’s achievement. In this regard, the reflecting many assumptions, attitudes, beliefs,conceptual literature suggests that parents see and images of schooling. Second, it would betheir child and teachers see a child as part of a naïve to expect educators and school boards togroup. The empirical literature tends to sup port simply hand over institution al-based power toWaller’s thesis to a point, with parents often parents. Third, conflicts grow more intense asasking for individualized, personal parents get more closely involved in thecommunication. In add ition, there is ample classroom and in making decisions concerningevidence of the cultural, linguistic and core functions, curriculum, staffing and schoolinstitutional barriers that keep teachers and governance. Fourth, some parents want no part ofparents in their own separate worlds. At the same such core decision-making roles and considertime, the empirical literature offers some them the prerogative of administrators andpersuasive evidence that partnership models can teachers. In a multiracial, multicultural andcreate ‘bridges of understanding’ between the multiethnic society, such as Canada, these issueshome and the schoo l. Specifically, some critical are interlinked in complex way s that play out instudies draw our attention to protective and each individual situation. Nevertheless, theschool-centred structures of schooling that literature suggests that partnerships offer a path topathologize parents and keep them at a distance work collaboratively which can foster parents andfrom the core functions of teaching and learning. teachers understanding of the world through oneThe ‘deficit’ model and the ‘partnership model another’s eyes. Teacher development programsare conflicting orientations each with qu ite need to be designed and implemented thatdifferent implications for parent involvem ent. develop in teachers the critical reflective skills toWhile the demograp hics of family can create see their own biases, to develop communication
  27. 27. 18 Building bridges between home and schoolskills that will help teachers talk with an However, unless real rather than illusory powerincreasingly more diverse parent population, is shared with parents, who are willing and ablewhich cultivate the value of involving parents and to accept the responsibilities that go with it, theprovide teachers with a wide array of strategies notion of parent-teacher partnership will befor how to do this. ‘hollow words’ (Benson, 1999).The literature on parent involvement suggests a Finally, there are significant gaps in the researchworld of ‘multiple realities’. The challenge for on parent involvement. First, the role,educators and parents is to find w ays to work responsibility and expectation s of studentscollaboratively on the basis of each other’s reality themselves are mentioned in only a few studies.in the best interest of the child’s developm ent, However, the place of students withinachievement and success. Partnership models - partnerships needs more conceptual definitionparticularly as formulated by Epstein, Ogbu, and empirical emphasis. Practices such as three-Comer, Cummins and Hargreaves - provide way conferences point to the value of students’conceptual scaffolding upon which collaborative voices in their own learning ex perience, for theirrelationships between parents and teachers can parents’ participation and parents’ ‘assessmentdevelop. While each p artnership model has its literacy’. Second, best practices of teachers’strengths and weaknes ses, their common feature professional development, parent training andis practices of two-way communication between inquiry in the context of the partnership processhome and schoo l. Partnerships need to be needs to be documented more thoroughly in theadapted to fit particular co nditions of family Canadian schools, including models where thedemographics, student developmental needs, parents and teachers learn together (e.g., Paide iaschool structures, and community resources. seminars). Third, we have only scratched theInnovations - such as paren t centres, homework surface in understanding the micro-dynamics of‘hotlines’, home visits, parent coordinators, power and authority in interactions betweenteachers as ‘ethnographers’, parent-teacher parents and teachers. Particularly, studies areteaming, parent education and training, three-way needed that focus on the social organization ofconferences, and ‘schools in th e community’ - are partnerships in institutional settings - especiallyparticularly promising ways to foster two-way parent involvement in the school, the classroomcommunication, emotional understanding, and in decision-making roles. The research wecohesion between school practices and parent reviewed clearly indicates tensions betweensupport roles, and involv ement of community professional and persona l realities when parentsresources. The potential of technology for become closely involved in the day-to-dayimproving reporting, networking, and parent activities of teachers’ work. These tensions haveinvolvement has yet to b e fully explored, and this to be confronted open ly and honestly, notmeans giving access and resources to all parents. ignored.
  28. 28. ‘I’m not clever. I listen to her read that’s all I can do’:parents supporting their children’s learningEmma Beresford, Sue Botcherby and Olwen McNamaraIntroduction were in a slightly more mixed so cio-economicThe role of the parent as co-supporter in the community with betw een 30% and 60 % of pupilseducative process is vital if children are to from ethnic minority families. The project as aachieve their potential. Structures are in place whole focused upo n families of children in yearsnationally to make schoo ls more accountable to 1, 6, 7 and 10; chosen to be at the beginning orthe community and to ensure they inform parents end of the ‘key stages’ of education where schoolof curriculum matters and, to a lesser degree, activity with regard to involving parents inenlist their support in helping their children to supporting their children, and parental interest inlearn; but the gap between practice an d rhetoric is doing so, could reasonably be expected to bewide, particularly in the secondary phase. The important. Interviews were cond ucted withLink Project was a collaborative enterprise parents/carers of 65 children, sampled with regardbetween the Manche ster Metropolitan University, to variables such as social class, ethnicity, abilityManchester Inspection and Advisory Service etc. every attempt being made to ensure the‘partnership with parents’ and 5 Manchester sample was representative of the schoolschools (3 secondary and 2 primary). It was an population as a whole. In addition, interviewsaction research and development project which: were conducted with pupils and school staff,identified and evaluated communication including Senior Man agement Teams and Yearstrategies between home and school; discovered Heads. The research process included thewhat parents currently knew and believed about distribution of a questionnaire to 500 familiestheir children’s schooling and how they across the five schools. The questionnaire wassupported their learning; developed, implemented designed with a substan tive section common toand disseminated curriculum/ training resources all schools and an addition al section specific toto improve knowledge of the curriculum, access each individual schoo l focusing on theirto resources and understanding of strategies particular concerns. Over 250 resp onses werewhich help parents sup port their children’s received and although efforts were made to offereducation. This paper briefly reviews the research support to parents who might experienceprocess and reports on the findings and difficulty with written English, we neverthelessdevelopment work . felt, that responses were skewed to higher socio- economic classes and ethnic minority familiesProcess were under represented.The five schools involve d in the project were A significant feature of the project was thechosen, from a cohort of vo lunteers, to cover a establishment of Parental Action Teams (PATs)range of socio-economic and ethnic populations. of key stakeholders in the educative process:Two of the schools were RC Voluntary Aided teachers, parents and governors. The PATs wereschools (1 primary, 1 secondary) in a solidly involved in the research design, data collection,white, working class, socio-eco nomically mediation of findings, development work anddeprived area of the city. The other 3 schools finally the evaluation of those developments.
  29. 29. 20 Building bridges between home and schoolPATs met both locally, managing the project at they had experienced d ifficulty, sometimesschool level, and centrally in a consultative group considerable, in contacting schools or individualwhich, in addition to its adviso ry remit with teachers: ‘I left many messages and they neverregard to the research and development processes, got back’. A couple of parents remarked uponprovided an arena for the sharing of good difficulties encountered when problems arosepractice. There was a continuing cycle whereby after school or in the holidays: ‘I find itthe research not only identified existing good frustrating that by the time the children get homepractice but also informed the development work, you can’t contact anybody at the school so youwhich was in turn evaluated . are left frustrated ‘till the next day’. One parent suggested a ‘voice mail’ facility would be useful.Findings How schools dealt with incidents left a lasting impression on parents: ‘My estimation went right(i) Contact up. You know there is going to be problems atPrimary parents contacted schools on a regular school but if you kno w they are going to be dea ltbasis: 25% contacted schools once a month and with professionally and promptly it makes you60% once a term. The ease with which parents feel confident. I was very impressed’.were able to speak to teachers varied g reatly: in Questionnaire data regarding the building andone primary school parents found 23% of sustaining of relationships in the secondary phaseteachers always and 71% usually available; in the was mixed. There were sign ificant differencesother school 68% of parents found staff always between schools, perhaps as a result of structuralavailable. Both primary scho ols had apparently factors, as to who parents felt they knew best. Insuccessfully established relationships with the one secondary scho ol 16% of parents claimed toparents: overall 40% of parents felt they knew the know the headteacher best whereas in anotherclassteacher best, 30% the headteacher and 30% none did. Numbers claiming to know thefelt they knew both well. On ly 2% of parents in classteacher well varied from 16% in one schoolone school and 7% in the other felt they knew no to 50% in another. Between 20% and 35% ofone well. The transition from primary to parents, however, still felt they knew no one well.secondary school was felt to be quite ‘scary’ for The reasons for this lack of conn ection wereparents and children alike. First impression s were undoubtedly co mplex. On one level ma ny parentsimportant: one secondary school reorganised its had to rid themselves of much ‘emotionalintroductory meeting into a format based upon baggage’ and overco me the various ways insmall informal groups and parents felt them to be which the school system, and in particular the‘informative’ and ‘friendly’: ‘we all went it, was secondary school system, inadvertently alienatedlike a family thing’. them. Ghosts from the historical past featuredSecondary parents reported surprisingly few large in parent memories: one mother recalled hercontacts with the school 60% only contacted once own experiences as a child at sch ool in the 60s,a term and 30% never made contact. When they ‘I left school unable to read and write, cou ldn’tdid contact schools 15% of secondary wait to get out so I bring these experiences’. Forrespondents found the teachers always available another it was those of her husband: ‘My husbandand 70% found them usually available. Evidence is very anti religion - the religion was very pushyfrom the interview data with regard to this matter at his school.. being humiliated.. didn’t want thewas mixed. Whilst some parents felt ‘the school children to go through th at’. Many parents feltis responsive they always seem to return your intimidated by the academic etho s of the school:calls’ over one third of those interviewed said ‘the whole system and language around the
  30. 30. Building bridges between home and school 21system is very difficult, they all alienate us’; came to delivering information from school. In‘there were computers everywhere and it was the primary phase the picture was varied, 68% ofdead hi-tech and I was thinking AHHH!’ For parents in one school and 35% in another feltsome there were cultural barriers: one father felt their children brought home all the informationhis son’s school was a ‘forcing house for the they were given. A num ber of the parentsmiddle classes … hidden curriculum … preparing interviewed felt strongly that important thingskids for company life’; one mother ‘speaking as a like SATs results and reports should either beblack working class woman’ felt ‘the PTA can posted home or more effective structures shouldappear very elitist... particularly at secondary be in place to ensure the collection of reply slips.school’. Some parents felt psych ologically Parents’ knowledge about the curriculum andthreatened: ‘you need a lot of con fidence to assessment processes was generally fairly vaguecontact the school’; ‘enormity... annexes and across both primary and secondary phases.classrooms… new ... scary… too big… don’t Questionnaire evidence indicated that betweenknow anybody... get lost… those feelings stay 37% and 62% of primary and secondary p arentswith you throughout the whole school’. Another felt they had about the right amount ofmother wanted to assert social boundaries information on both what their child was taughtbetween home and school: ‘it’s all like the and the exams they took and between 33% andboundary/demarcation .. bringing your social life 60% felt they had too little. It thus appeared thatinto school’. information dissemination practices and strategies across schools varied tremend ously in their(ii) Information - Curriculum quality and effectiveness. As a consequenceOverall 70 % of parents were satisfied with the overall about 20% o f secondary responden ts feltquantity of the general information they received they knew ‘a lot’ about what their child wasabout the school and their child, 25% felt they learning, in the primary phase the variation washad too little although nobody felt they had too from 10% in one school to 50% in another. 23%much. Questionnaire data indicated that, on the of secondary respondents felt they knew ‘little’ orwhole, they found the information ‘easy to ‘nothing’. In the primary schools theunderstand’, ‘well presented’ and ‘useful’; but corresponding figures w ere 8% and 32% .they were a little more unsure that it was ‘sent at Most parents appeared to k now what subjectsthe right times’. Evidence from the interviews their children were studying but were unclearwas a little more mixed with regard to the q uality about the NC levels and grading of the SATsand clarity of the written materials. Evidence tests: ‘I think the NC is jargonistic’; ‘I startindicated that overall nearly half the parents reading it and I get bored I don’t un derstand halfbelieved they got all of the information sent home of it really’; ‘I heard about the key stages but Ivia their child. In the secondary phase the don’t know what they are I don’t know how theyreliability of the child as ‘postman’ clearly are assessing them, I don’t know anything aboutdecreased with age: twice as many year 7 parents the levels and I would like to know’. A number offelt they got all the information as year 10 parents expressed a desire to know more: ‘I’d likeparents, 10% of the latter felt they got ‘very it better to understand the NC be cause I think R islittle’. As one year 10 father complained: under some pressure from th e work at school.‘sometimes it’s like getting blood out of a stone, From that point of view I’d like to understand aunless you push and push him for the information little bit more. I think I’d also like to know howyou don’t get it’. Overall girls were felt to be parents could help children appropriately’. Onesignificantly more reliable than boys when it mother also acknowled ged the problems: ‘if
  31. 31. 22 Building bridges between home and schoolsomebody said to me would you come on a day but only 30% thought they were ‘well organised’.course about the national curriculum I would say One third of parents felt the evenings ‘toono. So it depends what is being offered really’. rushed’. The picture was mu ch the same in primary schools. A small nu mber of parents(iii) Progress remarked upon the variable quality of theParents on the whole felt slightly better informed information received from staff at parents’about their child’s progress than about the evenings. One parent recalled a very usefulcurriculum. Questionnaire data indicated that interview with a teacher who pinpointed that herbetween 42% and 56% of secondary p arents felt son had problems with his concentration andthey knew a lot about how well their child was suggested ‘in a nice professional way’ strategiesdoing; between 14 % and 32% felt they k new only to improve his memory. Another parent stresseda little or nothing. The picture was similar in the the value of receiving detailed and focusedprimary phase where 30% of parents in both feedback from teachers.schools felt they knew little about h ow well their The picture in both primary an d secondary datachild was doing. with regard to written reports was equally mixed. Nearly 90% of respondents felt the language usedParental knowledge of their child’s progress was was easy to understand; although again evidenceinformed in a number of w ays. In the secondary from the interviews was a little more mixed inphase all schools operated some form of journal this respect. Only 70% of secondary (and 80% ofor log book and m ost parents seemed very primary) parents felt that the marks and gradespositive about its potential as a 3-way mode of were equally transparent; leaving 30% unsure, orcommunication; some were very positive: ‘thanks decidedly unclear: ‘a bit mind-boggling’ as oneto the journal I feel I have a personal relationship mother put it. Lack of understanding ran deep:with all of D’s teachers’. Evidence from the there was still confusion about how to interpretinterviews suggested that w hilst some parents marks, ‘40% is that good?’; about the assessment‘got the journal every night’ and felt it ‘operated system, ‘it went from 3.6 to 6.2 he w as veryquite successfully… gives the children a focus’ pleased but to be honest I hadn’t a clue’; and eventhere was a drift in its use from year 7 to year 10. about percentages, ‘38% out of what? It might beA number of parents felt the potential of the out of 40%’. Some appeared quite alienated byjournal was not always realised. O ne parent felt the whole business ‘wh en you open these rep ortsthere was a tendency for teachers to w rite it’s like getting the gas or electric bill with all‘negative comments, they d on’t seem to write these symbols and thin gs’. 20% of respond entspositive things’. Parents were very encouraged by felt reports did not give enough detail and 30%unsolicited positive comments: one mother, were unsure that they gave a clear pictu re of theirwhose son was in a remedial centre, remembered child. Nearly half of the responden ts were unsurethat she had given her son ‘a big hug’ when she that reports were sent often enough. This lattergot a letter congratulating him on his English message was reinforced in the interviews: as onework. Credit systems, wh ere in operation, were year 7 parent observed ‘November they are notapproved of by bo th parents and children, if it established. November to June is practically awas applied consistently by teachers and across whole academic year if there is a problem timeall subjects. has been wasted’.Parents’ evenings were described as ‘useful’ by Despite feeling reasonably well informed aboutover 75% of secondary respondents, nearly 60% their child’s progress there were still howeverdescribed them as ‘welcomin g’ and ‘informative’, significant differences in parents’ expectations for
  32. 32. Building bridges between home and school 23their children that did not correspond to actual that parents in year 10 helped childrenexamination results: in the second ary schools considerably less than those in year 7. In the58%, 62% an d 26% of parents exp ected their primary phase virtually all parents claimed tochildren to get degrees; in the primary sch ools ‘listen to reading’, and 70% ‘test spelling s’,30% and 70%. The most likely explanation for ‘check work is done’ and ‘explain work’. Thethese marked differences lay in the socio- amount of help which children received fromeconomic distribution of the schools’ intakes. family members was significantly age related. InWhen collated across the sa mple as a whole there one primary school 30% of pupils had help eachwas significant positive correlation between night and in the other 55% ; by comparison onlysocial class and expectations; 85% of professional 6% of secondary ch ildren had help each night. Inparents, 80% of managerial, 38% of skilled, and year 7 nearly half the children got help once or29% of semi-skilled expected their children to get twice a week; 40% rarely got help. By year 10degrees. one third of children got help once or twice aThe vast majority of secondary parents, in all week and over 60% rarely got help.schools did however feel that they could make a There were a number of reasons for this apparentdifference: 54% a lot, 36% some, and only 10% ‘fall off’ in parental support and, in particular, itfelt they could make little or no difference. The was not necessarily for lack of willingness on theimpact primary parents felt they could have was part of parents: in year 7 only 4% of parentssignificantly greater: 80% in one school and 65% claimed their children did not allow th em to helpin another felt they could make a lot of with homework, by year 10 25% of parents feltdifference, only 5% felt they could make little or discouraged. In the primary phase, byno difference. Parents also felt they could make comparison, virtually all parents claimed to besignificantly more difference to how well their allowed to help their children with h omework. Itdaughters did at school than their sons. also appeared that girls were significantly m ore receptive to help than boys. Parental expertise, or(iv) Homework rather lack of it, was a second theme whichThe amount of homework children did each night emerged: ‘we’ve been studying at college butat secondary school varied considerably : 3-17 % sometimes even we do n’t know how to d o it’.spent 2 hours or more, about 50% overall spent Parents felt inadequate particularly in the seniorone hour, 30% half an hour, and, 5%, their years at secondary school: ‘in year 7 he broughtparents claimed, did none. M ost year 7 parents homework and we understood what he wasfelt the amount of homewo rk given to their doing’. Maths seemed to be a recurrent problem:children was about right but over 40% of year 10 ‘I probably struggle a bit with maths becauseparents felt their children did not get enou gh. In mine was taught in inches and pounds and thesethe primary phase overall 30% spent one hour, are in millimeters and grams’. Homework clubs60% spent half an hour, and 20% of children in were posited as one solution: ‘I would love to seeone school and 2% in the other did no homework. a homework club because then there would beWhen asked to describe the strategies that they someone for helping’. In ad dition to the supportused to help their children most primary and provided by parents, grandparents and siblingssecondary respondents replied that they ‘show were often mobilized to help: ‘if she has anyinterest’ and ‘give praise’. In the secondary phase problems she asks her older sister; my brotherover 50% of parents ‘check work is done’, helps if she has any difficult homework’. A‘explain work’ and ‘sugg est improvements’. demarcation in terms of subject expertise wasThere was strong evidence here again to suggest also often apparent: ‘I can’t do maths my husband
  33. 33. 24 Building bridges between home and schoolcan’; ‘if its maths or equations it’s his Dad… development. There were some undeniably clearspelling or English I help. Germ an is a no’. A messages for schools in the research findings.third theme which emerged from the data to Interviews and questionn aire data combined toexplain the apparent fall off in parental support illuminate the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ and ‘why’ ofwas that of independence: there was a growing school/parent/child dyna mic as they related torecognition that ‘when children get older you’ve parents supporting their children’s education.got to give them a bit of trust let them stand on Additionally, data (not reported here) from thetheir own feet’. Although there did seem to be a individual school section in the questionnairecertain amount of covert surveillance going on, informed schools abou t issues of specific‘she is uncomfortable about us looking in her importance to them. Parents identified both areasbooks so we tend to do it when she is at school or in which they were very su pportive of theirin bed’. school’s existing policy and practice and alsoFinally lack of information regarding homework ones in which they felt there was room foremerged as a significant issue. Between 6% and improvement. Such data was able to, and did,36% of secondary parents responding to the inform focused and practical dev elopment workquestionnaire claimed never to get enough which, where possible, was evaluated for impactinformation about hom ework and overall only and effectiveness. The PAT’s, utilizing expertise10% were always satisfied with the information in disseminating finding and fosteringreceived. Overall 45% of seco ndary parents developments, were the main engine for change,claimed never to get enoug h advice about how to in liaison with University and L EA advisers.help their child and over 50% never got enough The experience of being inv olved in the wholeinformation about the resources that may be process with its attendant discussions,available to do so. In the primary phase the information sharing and clo ser links with parentspicture was equally dismal: 13% of parents in one acted as a catalyst in the school communitiesschool and 28% in the other claimed never to get stimulating awareness, interest and radical sh iftsenough information about homework, about how in thinking that informed practice and policy.to help (20% and 38%) or about resources (30% Two key interventions, which inspiredand 56%). Interview data confirmed this picture: substantive developments, were the interim and‘I wish the school would send leaflets it would final research reports presented to individualhelp me to help them... kids perceive things schools. The findings repo rted were such that indifferent... there is a communication problem ’. all cases there were clear opportunities forAlso: ‘If they cannot be provided with books improvement based on sound qualitative andbecause it’s too expensive... fair enough but you quantitative information from interviews andcan say exactly what books we can buy’. The questionnaires. School managers reported howjournal was viewed very positively as a method helpful these were in both stimulating andof communicating on the issue of homework; directing change.although the need for mo re systematic checks to One of the major findings ind icated that parentsbe made by all parties involved in its use, had too little information about the curriculumparticularly in year 10, was identified. and how to help their child. In response, one school changed the format of its Year 10 Parents’Developments Evening by engaging the staff practically inKey to the project and of central imp ortance to producing curriculum information handouts onthe participating schools was that as an action each subject. These were simply designed,research project it embraced research and written in parent friendly language and contained

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