The issues of parent involvement into the process of education of their children used to be one of the important discussion issues for a relatively long period of time already in the spheres of psychology and pedagogic. Generally it is considered to be one of the least controversial issues in education. Most of the teachers are convinced that the more parents are involved into education of their children, the better would be the educational outcomes of the last. At the same time there is no clear instruction as for the correct organization of the parents’ involvement and no list of activities, which should make this involvement really a positive contributor into the process of education. The prior research in this sphere proved that parent and family involvement into child’s education is a meaningful factor for his success. Some of the studies suggested that parent involvement is important for the elementary education. Later theoretical conceptualization has changed, focusing upon the idea of parent involvement during middle school as well.
The role of parents for appropriate flow of the educational experiences and activities of their children at home and even at school is a subject of long –term debates and research. Initially researchers had paid a lot of attention towards investigating of the meaning of parent involvement for the early years of schooling of their children. Later, however, they started to examine parent involvement in children education during the middle grades. Such shift releases the need to consider the change of parent involvement between early years and middle grades.
Types of parent involvement
Often parent involvement in family-school life and connections is considered on the basis of the perspective developed by Epstein (1995). According to the his conceptualization there are overlapping spheres of impact, which are related to the complex interrelationships between community, school, family and peer groups, which at the same time have their strong impact upon student’s individual well-being and academic success. “School, family, and community partnerships include practices initiated by parents, educators, or other community members. These practices may occur at school, at home, or in the community and they reflect six different types of family involvement.” (Epstein et al., 1995). The first type is related to the basic obligations of the parents, which include taking care of child’s safety, health, readiness for school and supporting of positive environment for educational process. The second type is related to the basic obligations of organizing communication between schools and parents about school programs and student’s progress. Type III is parents’ voluntary participation in school activities, providing assistance to teachers and administrators in preparation of school activities and events. Type IV is related to the involvement of the parents into the learning process at home. The fifth type of parental involvement includes participation in decision-making activities at school, such as for example parent-teacher organizations, state level educational committees. The last type is related to parent and school cooperation with communities or community agencies, which might impact the learning opportunities of children.
“The significance of the theoretical perspective of overlapping spheres of influence lies not only in the identification of the different types of parental involvement, but also in the recognition that parents’ involvement in children’s education and family-school connections is not static, but is a complex phenomenon that is influenced by characteristics of the overlapping spheres of influence and the nature of the participants’ interrelationships. Parental involvement may therefore vary by factors such as students’ age and grade level, social background and experiences of families, and school policies.” (Epstein et al., 1995).
Prior Research findings
During the period of the last fifteen years researchers have devoted a lot of attention towards investigating various aspects of parents’ involvement into educational process of their children either at home or at school. Mostly this was done with the aim to work out effective policies, useful for family-school programs and practices. The above-mentioned typology of Epstein was also the product of this research. Most of the studies revealed the positive potential of parental involvement into learning activities of their children and for increase of motivational level of children. According to other studies the connection between high socioeconomic background and high level of education was found. It is already known that families, belonging to different social class and race backgrounds, prefer different types of parental involvement.
One more line of research was devoted to investigating of the meaning of school practices for involving family members and supporting students at schools. “Findings from those studies show that minority parents can be successfully involved in their children’s education and that school and teacher interventions help these families succeed.” (Epstein, 2002).
There is a tendency of general decline of parental involvement, as soon as children reach middle grades and it becomes even less practiced, when they enter high school. On the basis of the research, conducted during the middle school level years, it is shown that most of the parents prefer to supervise their children in their middle grades, but the assistance from schools is minimal. (Kim & Rohner, 2002). This leads to the situation, when there is no cooperation and coordination and instead families are to struggle. But parents become more focused upon controlling of their children for doing family and home activities, for example doing chores at home, and not upon applying any strategies and approaches in order to improve the report card grades of their children. This is explained by the lack of the needed communication from the side of schools for parents, families. The situation is that a lot of middle grade students along with their families do not feel connected to their schools and teachers and feel isolated. Not many schools work out the programs for parental involvement during middle schools in addition not many parents are ready to volunteer at schools. “Studies suggest that if middle schools were to create programs that encourage school-family contacts and guide parents’ interactions, more families would participate in schools and would be able to guide their children in their learning efforts.” (Epstein et al., 1995).
Epstein (1995) conducted the research, in frames of which parental involvement between the eighths and tenth grades was made. On the basis of this study it is possible to assume that there is a serious decline in parental involvement when students start to move from middle school to the beginning of their high school. There are only some parents, who prefer to remain active with their involvement. Mostly these are those parents, who continued to be involved during middle grades, irrespective of lack of cooperation between schools and families, of such school environments and policies, which are newly introduced for high schools. If to compare the impact of social background characteristics, including race, ethnicity, gender to the effects of prior parental involvement, it is evident that the second factor is more influential. Race and ethnic differences exist in different types of parental involvement. “African American parents are most likely to conduct family discussions, attend school meetings and contact teachers. Asian American parents are least likely to participate in school visits and volunteering, but are similar to White and Latino parents on other types of involvement.” (Epstein et al., 1995). Concluding this section, it is necessary to say that neither educationists not policymakers should have any kind of pre-conceived notions regarding parent involvement. Regardless of income or cultural or educational background, could be involved into children’s learning with the aim to improve their skills and support their children. At the same time good intentions alone do not make the process of cooperation and communication between parents and schools built in the correct way, thus teachers, parents and pupils lack concrete understanding of each other’s interests and intentions. For example there are a lot of teachers, who have little to no idea about the ways of parents’ involvement as well as the ways, parents would like to be involved. At the same time most of the parents are not aware about the existing educational programs for their children at schools. Effective and versatile parent involvement is possible only under the condition of good partnership between families and schools. Creation of this partnership is an important step towards student achievement.
Middle school years
Children, entering the period of their early adolescence and middle school, are to face a lot of new challenges in their school context, in their family relations and their physical and mental developmental processes. All these changes have their impact upon their academic performance, in most cases this impact is negative. There is a lot of attention devoted to highlighting of the great role played by parent involvement and family-school relations during the years of elementary and secondary education. However, the amount of literature, devoted to investigation of the processes in the middle school and parent involvement exactly during this period, is growing nowadays. “Across 50 studies, parental involvement was positively associated with achievement, with the exception of parental help with homework. Involvement that reflected academic socialization had the strongest positive association with achievement. Based on the known characteristics of the developmental stage and tasks of adolescence, strategies reflecting academic socialization are most consistent with the developmental stage of early adolescence.” (Hill & Tyson, 2017, p. 7).
Both parents and teachers are to realize those changes, which coincide with middle school years of their children and students, these changes include biological and cognitive development, social changes, renegotiations of family relations, especially for the parent adolescent relations. In addition there is a serious change in relation to school context, as there are more teachers, there are changes in curriculum and pupils are provided with their opportunities to make their first important choices. Unfortunately these changes have negative impacts upon the performance level of most of the students. However, in the long –term perspective they tend to reveal their educational and occupational interests and this is the reason, why this transition period is so important for them and for their future. “The confluence of these developmental and contextual changes at early adolescence increases the risk that students may not reach their potential and heightens the need to identify sources of support.” (Hill & Tyson, 2017, p. 8).
Most of the theories and research results underline the meaning of families support, school-family relations and parental involvement in education of the students during their elementary and secondary levels at school. Family-school relations and parental involvement are vitally important for revealing of students’ potential and maximizing of their achievements in all spheres. Such federal policies as No Child Left Behind Act support parental involvement in education and attract attention to building family-school relations for elementary and secondary school levels. Irrespective of the fact that there is an agreement about the meaning of cooperation between families and schools, there is no enough attention currently paid towards the changes, related to middle schools and early adolescent development. Thus researchers started to consider the relation between parental involvement and decline of students’ educational success, when they shift from elementary to middle schools. There is a need to find out the extent to which parental involvement is really needed for middle schools students and be precise with the types of this involvement, so that it is maximally effective. The amount of research has increased, but the results of it are rather competing. “For example, some research has demonstrated that parental involvement in education is positively associated with adolescents’ academic outcomes throughout middle and high school.” (Catsambis, 2001; Hill et al., 2004). At the same time other researchers informed that there is no such strong connection between parental involvement and achievement. The problem is that these analyses did not consider the developmental stage of students, although this is a meaningful factor for such analysis.
Middle School Context
The middle school context is rather challenging for both students and their parents. This is the reason, why many parents face problems with involving into their children education in appropriate way. First of all middle schools a larger and become more complex, so parents might simply be lost and have little idea about the forms of their involvement. Also there are a lot of teachers and this is an obstacle for them to develop productive relations with parents of all their students. Most of middle schools are based on the principle of departmentalization by academic subjects and teachers do not have so many contacts with students individually.
Parents in their turn experience difficulties, as they have no idea, which teacher to contact, as there are a lot of teachers and a lot of subjects. This is the reason, why they often just miss the information about academic success of their children or do not know where to obtain it. The curriculum choices are in most cases rather complicated and parents have vague ideas about the ways of organizing their involvement during middle school years. “Not only does the middle school context impact the types of involvement that matter, adolescents’ development itself impacts how parents can maintain involvement and its effectiveness.” (Chao et al., 2009).
Taking into consideration that fact that academic progress during middle school years declines and the new challenges, related to parental involvement during this period appear, it is possible to conclude that parental involvement has the great potential for positive impact upon academic achievements of their children. Some researchers point out that exactly academic socialization is the perfect form of parental involvement during middle school. It is said to have positive relations with achievement. Certainly the meaning of school-based involvement should not be underestimated, but its effect is not that strong. Home-based involvement is not limited and not related to assisting with homework. “Academic socialization includes parents’ communication of their expectations for achievement and value for education, fostering educational and occupational aspirations in their adolescents, discussing learning strategies with children, and making preparations and plans for the future, including linking material discussed in school with students’ interests and goals.” (Hill & Tyson, 2017). This is an important period of children development, when they are to develop their abilities of analytic thinking, planning, decision making, problem solving. Children are to become clear with their goals, beliefs, motivations and all these internal processes should be aligned with their academic performance and activities. The process of academic socialization is based upon such types of strategies, which would not contradict children autonomy and independence formation along with their cognitive abilities. Such involvement should contribute to building internalized motivation for life achievements, to focusing upon plans for the future, to building of connections between school studies and future goals, which would be consistent with the real needs of middle school students. (O’Brien & Dervarics, 2011). Students during this period lack those tools, which would help them to make semiautonomous decisions in relation to their academic choices. Parents should be involved enough to support them with finding these tools and making these decisions.
Academic socialization strategies should be not only suitable for adolescents, but also for their school contexts. Middle school teachers face the challenge of the number of parents of their students, whom they would like to involve and with whom they would like to develop relations. “Middle school teachers instruct many more students than elementary school teachers. Moreover, because students have multiple teachers, it is difficult for parents to develop productive relationships with their adolescent’s teachers.” (Chao et al., 2009).
One of the greatest advantages of academic socialization as the form of parental involvement, is its ability to adapt for middle school contexts, as it does not demand development of strong relations with each teacher of the child. (Parent Involvement In Middle School: A Meta –Analytic Assessment of the Strategies That Promote Achievement). Parents should be aware of the fact that the primary goal is not to develop high-quality relations with each teacher from middle school, rather it is important to organize the flow of information and communication between home and school, appropriate for middle school context. Here the top priority belongs rather to parent and child relationship. This type of involvement is the most beneficial for children, as it does not hinder their interests and development of independence.
Most of the parents are aware of the meaning of their involvement for academic success of their children and this is the reason, why they want to be involved. The problem is that during early school years parental involvement could be organized in a rather simple form and most of the parents do not experience any difficulties. However, the middle school context is different and there are a lot of new challenges developed for both children and their parents. This is the reason, why it is so important to consider all the peculiarities of adolescence development as well as middle school context in order to be able to apply the correct form of parental involvement.
Catsambis, Sophia, Garland, Janet E. (1997). Parental Involvement in Students’ Education During Middle School and High School. Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center
Chao R.K., Kanatsu A, Stanoff N, Padmawidjaja I, Aque C. (2009). Diversities in meaning and practice: The parental involvement of Asian immigrants. Teachers College Press; New York. pp. 110–125.
Epstein J.L., Salinas K.C., Jackson V.E. (1995). Manual for teachers and prototype activities: Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS) language arts, science/health, and mathematics interactive homework in the middle grades. Rev. ed. Johns Hopkins University, Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships; Baltimore: 1995.
Epstein J.L., Sanders M.G. (2002). Family, school, and community partnerships. In: Bornstein MH, editor. Handbook of parenting: Vol. 5. Practical issues in parenting. Erlbaum; Mahwah, NJ. pp. 507–437.
Hill. Nancy, E., Tyson, Diana, F. (2017). Parental Involvement in Middle School: A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Strategies That Promote Achievement. Developmental Psychology
Kim K., Rohner R.P. (2002). Parental warmth, control, and involvement in schooling: Predicting academic achievement among Korean American adolescents. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 33:127–140
O’Brien, Eileen, Dervarics, Chuck. (2011). Back to school: How parent involvement affects student achievement. Developmental Psychology
Parent Involvement In Middle School: A Meta –Analytic Assessment of the StrategiesThat Promote Achievement. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/dev453740.pdf
The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.
freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].Available at:
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016
"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016