Research Paper

Parent Involvement in Children’s Early Development


Laya Young

SOCL 345 Final Paper


This research discusses the importance of parental involvement in a child’s early development. Parent involvement in children’s early childhood education has significant improvement for a growing child. Measuring parent involvement can be done in many ways, parent involvement was measured for this research. There is research that includes an examination of parent involvement through a series of activities sent home for children to complete. Then a survey was given to be answered by the parents, to gain information about the child and parent’s experiences. Different topics and programs were discussed to help improve parent involvement. The quantitative and qualitative findings discuss what was found with sending home activities for children to complete. It was found that most of the parents involved with their children enjoyed spending time doing the activities together. Another finding was that the children had more difficulty completing the craft-based activities by themselves. Mothers were the primary respondents to the surveys so it can be assumed that mothers were more involved. 


A study was done to determine the parent’s involvement in children’s education. Parent involvement matters because it helps with the child’s early development. A child’s attitude can also be more positive towards others with more involvement from their parents. Understanding what parent involvement consists of is very important to a child’s development and achievement. There are ways of measuring parent involvement specified down below for a better understanding of parents being involved. The different models discussed ways of improving parent involvement and ways for parents to stay involved with their children’s development. For the research, there were 5 different activities sent home for children to complete. The activities were intended to help with the children’s skills, cognitive development, counting, shapes, and many more aspects of a child’s early development. 

Literature Review

Family involvement is a vital resource in the foundation of a child’s development because it ensures the growth of healthy fundamentals and resilience throughout their education. Parent involvement may not directly influence children’s academic outcomes, but it can enhance academic achievement by providing a child with motivation to complete educational tasks (El Nokali et al., 2010). It is also defined as the teacher’s perception of the positive attitude parents have toward their child’s education, teacher, and school (Topor et al., 2010). According to Barnes (2016), parent-school relationships are evolving for two-way communication to help improve children’s education (Barnes et al., 2016). Barnes (2016) also stated that “In advocating for collaboration between communities and schools, Epstein (2010) identifies six components necessary to develop such partnership: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with the community (p. 361).” With this in mind, to understand the parent’s major influence on the child’s growth, one must define and identify what concepts exist and how they are applied in the real world.

There are many ways to measure parent involvement, yet the three ways that will be discussed are through school involvement, at-home interactions, and parent/teacher conferences. School involvement is where the parent is engaged with the child’s school activities. A parent going to a child’s game or being involved with any school activities with their child. Wong (2018) stated that “School-Based Involvement assesses the extent to which parents interact with school (p. 1547).” On the other hand, home involvement is based on parent/child interactions and the structure of the household. The activities such as helping a child with homework or reviewing learned material are considered within the structure as well. Lastly, parent/teacher involvement is where the parent keeps up with their child’s education by receiving feedback from their child’s educators. 

There are several models in parent involvement. The Early Head Start program, which uses home visiting, created a model that dichotomized participation and engagement into high and low levels, creating four categories of involvement. The order would go from highly involved, uninvolved, superficially involved, and sporadically involved (Korfmacher et al., 2008). The theoretical model of parental involvement proposed by Epstein (2007), talks about six main levels to establishing a partnership. A model of parent involvement emphasized by Halgunseth, Peterson, Stark, and Moodie (2009) focuses on early childcare professionals adopting a comprehensive approach. Which includes a welcoming environment, and involving parents and other family members in decision-making (Barnes et al., 2016). According to Sohr (2013), the family investment model focuses on parents with higher income and more educational attainment to have more investments in children’s development (Sohr et al., 2013). Lower socioeconomic status parents have to focus on more immediate needs for their children.

Parent involvement can also be determined by a family’s socioeconomic status. Families that have low income can cut the number of time parents have with their children, causing little to no parental involvement. Lower-income families have fewer opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities, which also limits their involvement with their children. A family’s increase in income can result in better opportunities to invest in goods, products, and services that enhance learning and overall child development (Sohr et al., 2013). Studies have shown that higher socioeconomic status families will be more involved with their children. An important advantage would be that educational support strategies are only effective at reducing truancy for students with higher socioeconomic status (McNeal et al., 2001). 

Establishing a healthy form of communication between educational institutions is just as important as the household environment. It is often recognized that institutions and home life can have distinct ideologies that are in constant rivalry. In an article by Barnes (2016), communication is a prominent key to being able to adequately help a child achieve in a school environment. Engaging in communication with the child’s educators benefits the child with different resources for the child’s development. Parent communication with their child’s educators includes monitoring attendance, behavior, academic performance, homework, and finding materials for their child’s schoolwork (Goshin et al, 2021). Staying on top of a child’s education and academic performance is a good way to stay involved with their development. 

Data and Methodology


A survey questionnaire was created by the 50 members of the Social Research and Program Evaluation class at Longwood University. The survey asked both open and close-ended questions. Items on the survey were designed to evaluate SMART objectives of the five activities that were completed the previous week by Head Start and Andy Taylor Center families. Items were included that also addressed demographic information, enjoyment of activities, family involvement, and completion of activities. Hard copies of the questionnaire were delivered to Head Start and the Andy Taylor Center.


The non-probability sample for this study was based on 100 children (ages three to five). Seventy-nine children attend Head Start in three counties. Head Start is a federally subsidized preschool for families with economic needs. Twenty-one children attend the Andy Taylor Center which is located on a college campus, and families apply and pay for their children to attend. Attached to the questionnaire was a children’s book to incentivize families to return the survey. Guardians of the children were asked to complete the survey and return it to the preschool the next day. Teachers sent a reminder home with children to return any outstanding questionnaires This resulted in 16 questionnaires being returned. Overall, there was a 16 % response rate.

Quantitative Analysis

Quantitative analysis of the returned surveys was based on close-ended questions. For this study, the dependent variable is family involvement. The item from the questionnaire that was used to operationalize this was, “On a scale of 0-10, how much did you help your child with the activity?” The answer choices for this item were 0 did not help at all, and 10 did the activity for them/ involved a lot. For this study the independent variable is race. The item from the questionnaire that was used to operationalize this was, “what is the child’s ethnicity?” The answer choices for this item were Latino/Hispanic, White, African-American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, Middle Eastern, Multiracial, and Other. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze these variables.

Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis of the returned surveys was based on open-ended questions. The open-ended questions on the survey consist of  “What did your family enjoy most about these activities? Why?”, “What did your child learn from these activities?”, and “What recommendations would you suggest to make these activities better?” To answer the research question, “How does the child’s race affect family involvement?”, inductive open coding was used to determine recurring themes in the respondent’s responses. 


Quantitative Findings 

The dependent variable for this project is “How involved was your family throughout the activity?” Based on the 16 responses for this study, the mean of the dependent variable was 8.5 and the standard deviation of this sample was 2.14. The independent variable used to measure our data for this project is “What is your child’s race/ethnicity?”  Using the 16 responses, the mean of the independent variable of this sample was 3.73 and the standard deviation was 2.25. White families had a mean involvement of 9.0, African American families had a mean involvement of 9.29, and Multiracial families had a mean involvement of 6.0. The mean of the independent variable was a lot higher in numbers than the dependent variable. The standard deviation for the independent variable was slightly higher than the dependent variable.

Qualitative Findings 

The themes for the surveys are spending time together, enjoyable, and easy. Respondent 4 stated, “Time spent together.” Respondent 3 stated, “ Our family really enjoyed how simple the activities were and how much our child enjoyed them.” The last quote directed from respondent 1 stated, “ Easy to follow instructions.” These quotes from the respondents represent the themes chosen for the survey. These themes were talked about the most throughout the survey by the respondents.

The quote from respondent 4, “Time spent together”, represents the theme of spending time together. This quote shows how the parent spent time with their child during the activity. A lot of the respondents talked about spending time with their children throughout the completion of the activities. Respondent 7 stated, “We enjoyed putting all different shapes together”, which shows how involved the parent was with their child.

Enjoyable was used as a theme because of how many respondents talked about enjoying the activities. Respondent 3 stated, “ Our family really enjoyed how simple the activities were and how much our child enjoyed them.” This quote shows how enjoyable the activity was for the parents and their children. A lot of the responses were the same regarding how the families enjoyed doing the activities together. Also the quote from respondent 7 talks about how they enjoyed the activity.

Easy was chosen as the last theme because there were a lot of respondents that said how easy the activities were. Respondent 1 stated, “Easy to follow instructions.” This quote states how easy it was to complete the activity. Also, respondent 16 stated, “how easy the directions were”, which shows that the directions were easy enough to complete the activities. Easy fun activities for the participants to do make it fun for the completion of the activities and time to spend as a family. 

The direct quotes from the surveys for the Cupcake Flower activity were “Practiced cutting with scissors”, “Learned how to cut and glue”, and “Loved cutting and gluing.” These quotes show how involved the child was in the Cupcake Flower activity. It also shows some of the things learned from the activity. There were no direct quotes on how to improve the activity Cupcake Flower, so overall it can be said that the activity was good. It was also a lot of feedback on how much the children learned doing these activities. 


Overall, it was found that parent involvement helps children’s education. There are many ways to be involved with children to help their education and child development. The status of a child’s parent can also affect the child’s development with involvement from the parent. Parent involvement may not directly influence a child’s academic success, but it can help academic achievement. According to the findings, the parents that were involved with their children through the activities enjoyed spending time with them. Not every child was able to complete all of the activities. It is important to continue keeping up with parent involvement to support children’s achievement. From the surveys, some parents gave feedback about including “information cards” about related topics as a way to increase learning even more. From the findings, there were themes found in the overall qualitative findings. They were Family Bonding Time, Skills, Enjoyment, and the Simplicity of Activities. These are just examples, but we have more that were provided in the surveys. In relation to Family Bonding Time, Respondent #4 stated that what they enjoyed most about these activities was “time spent together, the talks, learning.” Regarding the theme of Skills, Respondent #16 stated “my son learned different techniques from the activity that he can apply to real life.” Regarding the theme of Enjoyment, Respondent #6 said “I enjoyed watching [the child] complete these activities while I assisted her.” In relation to the theme of Simplicity of Activities, Respondent #3 stated that “Our family really enjoyed how simple the activities were…”


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