The role of families in children's schooling : "hard-to-reach" parents and the significance of home-school partnerships

Hopkins, Sylvia E. (1998) The role of families in children's schooling : "hard-to-reach" parents and the significance of home-school partnerships. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Current home-school partnership literature reveals that parents who are perceived by teachers as being "hard to reach" do care about their children's education, and want specific information about how they can help them with schoolwork at home. However, the school's adherence to conventional home-school relations, including traditional communication methods, remains a barrier to parents feeling welcome at the school. -- The present study investigated the views of nine families with children in grade eight at an inner city junior high school in Newfoundland, and the views of four school personnel. The specific focus is the parents' emerging stories about their children's schooling experiences, and their opinions about helping their children with homework. The study also examined the reasons why parents were perceived as hard to reach, what issues affected their children's schooling; and how parents could contribute to a collaborative process. The majority of families were in low-income, working-class situations, with mothers as the primary caregivers and coordinators of the home-school relationship. These included single-parent, step-parent, and dual-income families. -- The findings reveal caring but frustrated parents whose dismay about the school's lack of comprehension and response to their children's circumstances can be attributed to the following sources: 1. the school's communication patterns mainly involved contacting them when problems arose; 2. the school's adherence to traditional parental involvement, such as the Parent-Teacher Association, contributed to parents' feelings of alienation and severely limited their participation; 3. insufficient and inadequate programs and support systems, along with lack of homework information created confusion and stress; 4. structured on-going practices to keep parents informed were nonexistent, although parents clearly preferred this type of involvement; 5. the traditional value-system of the school suggests that, in challenging the school, some parents were considered as problems themselves, without being given respect and legitimatization for their concerns. Such findings appear to have implications for The 1992 Royal Commission Report on Education in Newfoundland which promotes the closer linking of home and school, and developing strategies that encourage parents' involvement both in school and in learning activities at home. -- Most significant, however, was that the majority of children had learning problems, including some with medical, behavioural, and learning disabilities. Their negative schooling experiences were intensified by the lack of early assessment, the trauma of moving from the elementary to the junior high level, and particularly their not being identified as "non-categorical special needs students" leading to some being stigmatized as troublemakers. Thus, more importantly for students' self-esteem and well being, the findings again point to the Royal Commission which advocates the rights of the child and equality of educational opportunity in order to cultivate "the intellectual, physical, emotional, social and spiritual development of students."

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 9638
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 234-238.
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 1998
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Education--Parent participation; Home and school

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