SOCL 306 (Stress and Crisis in the Family) taught me a lot about family dynamics and how families deal with stress in very different ways. This class peaked my interest in family sociology because Dr. Bidwell explained why families react the way the do, because of the resources and experiences they have had. Along with the material learned in class, we each had to write a paper on how parental involvement with their children can lessen the chances of stressors and crisis. First, individually we wrote a research paper on parental involvement and different types of activities families can do. Then, we split into groups and decided on activities to make and distribute to STEPS head start.
Facilitating Parental Engagement Project Phase 1
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.
Definition of Parental Involvement/engagement:
The conceptual definition of parental involvement and engagement focuses on a parents ability to take part in activities and finding ways to be apart of the child’s life. In a journal article written by Letitia Kotila and four other authors, states that parental involvement is “the amount of “quality” time parents spend directly interacting with their young children in engagment (play) and caregiving activities” (as cited in Lang et al, 2014////New Parents). The time spent with the child can drastically change their actions and is “crucial for child development” (New parents). 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, is the “parents or caregivers investment in the education of their children” (as cited in LaRocque….classroom to home). The time a parents spends with their child will further mold the child’s development.
The importance of Parental Involvement/ Engagement and its Long Term Effects
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 the foundational aspects of a child’s growth and development. It is a parents job to create and open line of communication and a home learning environment. The environment at home is suppose 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 their engagement 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 Perruci (2012) introduce 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” (as cited in Coleman, 1998 and Lareau, 2003). 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 2012). Parental involvement with children under the age of five years old can benefit them later on in life because they know they have 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 includes this in her explanation of importance of parental engagement and involvement in the home. She states that “parent activities with children at home reading or playing games can strengthen parent-child emotional bonds, expand parental influence, and strengthen achievement skills” (as cited in Benson and Mokhtari 2011; DiMaggio 1982). 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.
Activity: Pumpkin Carving/Decorating
Carving a pumpkin is a way to get parents actively involved in an activity with their kids and not just watch the kids participate. This activity would require parents to help pick a design, set up the stencil, teach the kids how to use the carving knife and carefully monitor them. Parents could guide the child through each step of the activity. For example, start with them picking out a design, then carving the top of the pumpkin to get the insides out, and then start carving out the design. In order to include all ages of the children the activity could be done without carving. This activity could either be done by carving using safety carving tools from a kit or by using paints and art supplies such as glitter, yarn and pipe cleaners. This activity could promote a learning objective by having the child follow instructions step by step while still having fun. The parents would have to actively teach their children how to hold the carving tool or paint brush. This way the activity can benefit cognitive development because it is teaching how rules and instructions are necessary to end up with a finished product.
Pumpkin carving and decorating can include other developmental skills such as social skills. Potentially a story about Halloween or pumpkins could be incorporated for the children to read or the parents read to them. This way there is a multistep process to introduce pumpkin carving and getting in the spirits of doing the activity. By having alternatives to accommodate age groups it is guaranteed that each age group could participate.
Activity: Meal Plan
This activity would require the toddler to preschooler age range because of the social component. Each family would be provided with chalk or dry erase markers, and a chalkboard or dry erase board that is big enough to decorate and small enough to easily take home. The family would allow the kids to plan out dinners or lunches for the week. It would create a social situation where the children would have an open line of communication with the parents. This way kids are excited about family dinners because they got to decide what they wanted to eat while still under control of the parents. The parents and children would write out the days of the week and go through what they wanted to eat each day. The parents would still have control over what food is possible to incorporate and the kids would have a creative outlet to choose their meals. It would help cognitive development because they are thinking of different foods and writing out the words.
Activity: Making cookies
This activity could involve all ages because there are parts that would still keep the infant aged children involved. Each family would be provided with the ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies (other options for any potential allergies). Making cookies can enhance a child’s physical development because they are mixing the ingredients together, then they are rolling out the dough and placing it on a cookie sheet. Socially they could talk with their parents about what to do, how much they need of an ingredient or talking about their day. The infant would still be involved because they could have cookie dough the play with while the other children are rolling out dough and placing it on trays. Making cookies is a step by step process that the children would learn from the parents. The parents would be involved because they are actively giving instructions on what to add in and when, what the oven temperature should be set at and how long the cookies will bake for. This activity would be one way to teach instruction in a creative way. Once the cookies finish baking the parent can still be involved and talk to their children while sharing the cookies.
Activity: Planting a seed/flower
This activity would be focussed more towards the toddler to preschooler age because it would involve a physical aspect of putting soil in a planter and planting the seed or small flower. Planting a seed or flower would keep the parents involved to make sure how much soil is put in and how to plant the seed and water it. For social development the parents and children would be talking and describing instructions. Doing this would develop an open line of communication between the parents and children. It would incorporate physical development because they would pour the soil, plant the seed, and water the plant. Planting something is a form of stress or tension release and could be an outlet for children to express emotions. It could almost be used as a therapeutic or relaxing technique for the child and the parent. Also it would enhance cognitive development because the children would learn the rules and process of planting a flower or seed and keeping it alive.
These activities would facilitate parental involvement and engagement because they would have to provide the children with rules and instructions. The parents would also provide a line of communication through each activity because they could talk about their kids days and listen to what’s going on in their child’s lives. These activities would enhance social development because they would ask questions and just talk to their parents and/or siblings. Emotionally the children could feel closer to their parents. Also, they can enhance cognitive and physical development because they all the activities are hands on and require active participation and listening.