Literature Review

Parental Involvement: Barner & Schultz


Parental engagement and involvement is a necessity to a child’s development because of its impact on future morals, decision making, and perceptions of the world. A child’s schooling can help them progress academically and socially; however, the importance of parental involvement in the child’s learning can affect the outcome of what type of person they become. Parents who are involved and take an active role in a child’s life have a better relationship with their children. Parental engagement facilitates a safe space that is open for communication and a structured learning environment that teaches the importance of self-actualization


Parenting is a skill that is not universally defined, amongst all individuals. How an individual chooses to be a parent to a child is based solely on the parents’ individual experiences. The conceptual definition of parental involvement and engagement focuses on a parent’s ability to take part in activities and finding ways to be a part of the child’s life. A journal article written by Kotila, Shoppe-Sullivan, and Kamp Dush (as cited in Lang, et al, 2014), states that parental involvement is “the amount of “quality” time parents spend directly interacting with their young children in engagement (play) and caregiving activities” (Kotila, Shoppe-Sullivan & Kamp Dush, 2016). The time spent with the child can drastically change their actions and is “crucial for child development” (Kotila, et al, 2016). This definition targets exactly how to be involved in their child’s life. It describes how the interaction can be through playing and participating in activities. In this journal Kotila describes parental engagement activities as “intellectually and emotionally stimulating and involve positive affect and responsiveness from parents” (Kotila et al, 2016). Another example of a conceptual definition of parental engagement and involvement, mentioned in Walsh, Cromer and Weigel (as cited in LaRocque, 2011), is the “parents or caregivers’ investment in the education of their children” (Walsh, Cromer & Weigel, 2014).

 The time a parent spends with their child will further mold the child’s development. Parental engagement with children has been linked to numerous of adaptive characteristics in preschool children, and relationships between families and professionals as an important contributor to school readiness (Sheridan, Knoche, Edwards, Bovaird & Kupzyk, 2010). The setting in which young children grow and develop, and the interactions and experiences they encounter in these highly sensitive years help to set the tone for new interactions and engagements (Sheridan et al., 2010). All dimensions are positively related to children establishing secure relationships. Furthermore, parental involvement is linked to the age of child, socioeconomic status, and overall family structure.


The importance of parental involvement and engagement and its long-term effects on a child are vital for a child to reach self-actualization. Parents cannot fully rely on a school system to be the only level of support and foundational aspects of a child’s growth and development. It is a parent’s job to create and open line of communication and a home learning environment. The environment at home is supposed to teach skills in a creative way that helps children form a sense of individualism and self-proficiency. These skills have to be established in order for further development. An educational review by Goodall and Montgomery, makes the argument that parents need to move away from just having involvement with the school and to make a greater effort to have more involvement with their children. The review expresses that the commitment to engage with their child should be much greater than their involvement with their child’s school (Goodall & Montgomery, 2014). Parents should still have a good relationship and an amount of involvement with their child’s school, but not solely survive on the school’sengagement with the child. Also, having a good relationship with the school helps the parental involvement at home. The insight to what their child is learning at school can help the parents better coincide some of their activities at home with the activities and learning goals that they are currently being taught in the classroom. 

Having parental involvement with children under five years old is vital because of its long-term effects on a child’s development. Stacer and Perrucci (2012) introduce (as cited in Coleman, 1988 and Lareau, 2003) that “time spent with children can have positive instrumental and emotional benefits and may provide access to social and cultural capital that provides advantages in social and intellectual development” (Stacer & Perrucci, 2012). When a child has a deep-seated relationship with their parents it leads to gaining good communication skills, academic skills, social skills and skills to better express emotions. The long term effects of parental engagement and involvement are attributed to academic success and a stronger family unit (Stacer & Perrucci, 2012). Parental involvement with children under the age of five years old can benefit them later onin life because they know they have the support of their parents and a good developmental foundation to build off of. Children will acknowledge that they are important in their parents lives.

Stacer And Perrucci (2012) includes this in their explanation of importance of parental engagement and involvement in the home. Stacer (2012) states (as cited in Benson and Mokhtari 2011; DiMaggio 1982), that “parent activities with children at home reading or playing games can strengthen parent-child emotional bonds, expand parental influence, and strengthen achievement skills” (Stacer & Perrucci, 2012). Parental involvement will help a child be able to acquire effectiveness of controlling emotions, having academic successes and generating a a good moral compass in the long term. 


The level of parental involvement and engagement children is first age appropriate. The first steps of parental involvement/engagement are those skills that are essentially formed in the child’s household. The parenting that infants experience greatly influences the current as well as long-term socioemotional function and mental health (Harden, Demark, Holmes & Duchene, 2014).  Also, such behaviors may stimulate short-term cognitive and language skills and long -term positive academic performance (Sheridan et al.,2010). However, the level in which a parent is involved may vary. Examples of parental involvement and engagement may include: how often a parent helps a child with homework, how often a parent encourages a child to do well in school, and how often a parent asks their child how school is progressing. The level of parental involvement may first be affected by the level of parenting an individual demonstrates.

Positive parenting may typically be described as warmth, responsiveness, and involvement between the parent and child (Harden et al., 2014). On the contrary, negative parenting may be described as constructs as intrusiveness, harshness, punitiveness, and detachment (Harden et al., 2014). Furthermore, socioeconomic status and family structure may also affect areas of parenting an individual demonstrates.


        Evidence suggests that families in lower socioeconomic status show a stronger correlation to demonstrating more negative parenting behaviors (Harden et al., 2014). Families in lower socioeconomic status often have more stressors such as financial stress. Parents living in lower environments are often associated with harsh parenting styles and even detachment from children. Children that are a product of harsh parenting, development and behavior is often compromised (Cabrera et al., 2011). Furthermore, evidence suggests that intrusive parenting has revealed that children experiencing this type of caregiving exhibit more interpersonal negativity, less autonomy, and higher level of behavioral problems (Harden et al., 2014).  Individuals of such actions have slower development both mental and physical, poorer social skills, lack of emotion knowledge, dysregulation of emotions and increased behavioral problems (Harden et al., 2014). All factors that can negatively affect a child’s academic development and success.

SES (continued)

Research has indicated that at the time of school entry, children from families with higher social status fare better than their lower status counterparts in the acquisition of academic skills, such as language proficiency, reading, math, and general cognitive abilities (Mokrova et al., 2012). In 2005, The US Department of Education defined children who are ready to learn as those who take the initiative to explore their environment and possess enthusiasm when learning (Mokrova et al., 2012). Furthermore, motivation is also a factor that can predict academic success for children. The essential notion of motivation is thought to first be produced in one’s family first. Children develop persistence during early childhood usually within their family context (Mokrova et al., 2012). Parents tend to structure interactions with their children in a way that supports their own values and the development of behaviors that they view as important for success in their cultural group (Mokrova et al., 2012).

Parents of both higher and lower social status value characteristics such as personal integrity and happiness and place a great value on having a good education (Carlson & Berger, 2013). However, both classes differ in values of self-direction. Individuals of higher status often have occupations to tend to promote self-direction and initiative. Individuals in this field must possess motivation to think outside the normal to get final tasks done. Furthermore, higher class individuals pass those traits to their own children.


Family structure matter for children’s well-being because different types of families are able to provide varying levels of parental and economic resources (Carlson & Berger, 2013). Families that include both mother and father typically have less stress. For example, in families in which the father is the head of the house and the mother is allowed to focus more on the household and children. Versus, single parent households where economic sources may be scarce and thus educational resources would be limited. A direct variable of family structure is the amount of parental time with children. The way a parent perceives a stress, and/or the amount of stress may also affect the amount of time and effort put into engaging with children (Harden et al., 2014).  

The quality time that children spend with their parents is typically the time that children learn and engage the most with parents.  Parents provide age appropriate cognitive stimulation, which parents provide their children with new information and give children cognitively challenging activities. Thus, higher-level cognitive reasoning has been associated with the development of persistence, curiosity, and orientation toward mastery among school-age children (Mokrova et al., 2012). However, in both lower class and higher-class families time spent with children is an issue.

        Parental Involvement and at home engagement may vary as family structures are becoming more diverse and complex. Studies suggest that even in dual parent relationships mothers are still more engaged than fathers in regard to parental involvement at home and school.  Fathers are less likely to than mothers to spend time with children as a primary activity but instead are more likely to assist with children when asked by mother. Fathers are spending more time with children in helper roles such as playing in which the time being spent is more flexible (Carlson and Burger 2013).

In co-parenting relationships, mothers are also more actively involved in children’s education while fathers are more involved when a child is at home (Berryhill, 2016). Single parents are in a particularly complex dynamic in relationship to parental involvement at home and school. Single parents may have to make decisions in comprise the time spent with children and various household responsibilities. Single parents often work longer hours or even multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. Thus, these types of parents may not be as involved with children’s education due to not having all the necessary resources or support system (Horny & Lafaele 2011).



Berryhill, M. (2016). Coparenting and Parental School Involvement. Child Youth Care Forum, 46, 261-283. doi:10.1007/s10566-016-9384-8

Benson, L., & Mokhtari, M. (2011). Parental employment, shared parent-child activities and childhood obesity. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32, 233-244. Doi: 10.1007/s10834-011-9249-0

Cabrera, N., Wight, V., Fagan, J., & Schadler, C. (November/December 2011). Influence of Mother, father, and child risk on parenting and children’s cognitive. Child Development, vol. 82(6), 1985-2005.

Carlson, M., & Berger, L. (June 2013). What kids get from parents: packages of parental involvement across complex family forms. Social Service Review, vol. 87(2), 213-249.

Coleman, J. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S95-S120. Doi: 10.1086/228943

DiMaggio, P. J. (1982). Cultural capital and school success: The impact of status culture participation on grades of U.S. highschool students. American Sociological Review, 47, 189-201. Doi: 10.2307/2094962

Goodall, J., & Montgomery, C. (2014). Parental Involvement to Parental Engagement: a continuum. Educational Review, 66, 399-410.

Harden, B., Denmark, N., Holmes, A., & Duchene, M. (2014). Detached parenting and toddler problem behavior in early head start families. Infant Mental Health Journal, vol. 35(6), 529-543. doi:10.1002/imhj.21476

Hornby, G., & Lafaele, R. (February 2011). Barriers to parental involvement in education: an explanatory model. Educational Review, vol. 63 37-52. doi: 10.1080/00131911.2010.488049

Kotila, L. E., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., & Kamp Dush, C. M. (2016). New Parents’ Psychological Adjustment and Trajectories of Early Parental Involvement. Journal of Marriage and Family. 78, 197-211. DOI:10.1111/jomf.12263

Lang, S., Shoppe-Sullivan, S., Kotila, L., Feng, X., Kamp Dush, C., & Johnson, S. (2014). Relations between fathers’ and mothers’ infant engagement patterns in dual-earner families and toddler com-petence. Journal of Family Issues, 35, 1107–1127. doi:10.1177/0192513X14522243

Lareau, A. (2003). Unequal childhoods: Class, race, and family life. Berkeley: University of California Press.

LaRocque, M., Kleiman, I., & Darling, S. M. (2011). Parental Involvement: The missing link in school achievement. Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, 55, 115-122. Doi 10.1080/10459880903472876

Mokrova, I., O’Brien, M., Calkins, Susan., Leerkes, E., & Marcovitch, S. (June 18, 2012) Links between family social status and preschoolers’ persistence: the role of maternal values and quality of parenting. Infant and Child Development, 21, 617-633. doi: 10.1002/icd.1761

Sheridan, S., Knoche, L., Edwards, C., Bovaird, James., & Kupzyk, K. (2010). Parental Engagement and School Readiness: Effects of the getting ready intervention on preschool children’s social-emotional competencies. Early Education and Development, 21(1), 125-156. doi: 10.1080/10409280902783517

Stacer, M. J., & Perrucci, R. (2012). Parental Involvement with Children at School, Home, and Community. J Fam Econ Iss, 34, 340-354. DOI 10.1007/s10834-012-9335-y

Walsh, B. A., Cromer, H., & Weigel, D. J. (2014). Classroom-to-Home Connections: Young Children’s Experiences With a Technology- Based Parent Involvement Tool. Early Education and Development, 25, 1142-1161. DOI: 10.1080//10409289.2014.904647