Research Project

Parental Involvement in Children’s Schooling

Nathan Brubaker

Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Studies

Sociology 345: Social Research and Project Evaluation

Dr. JoEllen Pederson

November 30, 2021


            This article covers the importance of parental involvement in children’s’ education. The study conducted was in cooperation with Head Start, an organization to help children gain basic skills while in preschool age. The study conducted allows parents and children to interact in a learning environment through activities sent home with the children from Head Start.


With schools returning to face to face learning, students are returning to the classroom after a year of online schooling. This transition back to school has some students struggling, however something that can help these students transition better and perform better in the classroom is involvement from parents in and out of the classroom.

The government has planned how students will return to school just to get them into the classroom (Education, 2021) but not a way for students to excel in school once back in. Students are having to be responsible for their work in a way that was different from the 20’-21’ school year thus creating a shift in grades downward. Students were able to receive help from parents who were more readily available because of being together in their home setting. With the shift back to school parent involvement is no less important than it was during the 20’-21’ school year. Parents should be getting involved in their children’s academics and nurturing their learning abilities by helping with homework and becoming involved in the school itself through talking to teachers or through the PTA. 

This article will show, through cooperation from the Head Start program, how parents can get involved with their child’s learning and that learning is not something that should happen strictly in the class room.

Literature Review

Studies show that parent involvement is important in a student’s success in school (Bower & Griffin 2018; Patall et al., 2008; Anderson & Minke, 2008). A student’s home and school life are influential in their school performance (Nokali et al., 2010). Home and school life effect a student’s mental well-being which can either hinder or boost their academic performance and future success. The family is a place where learning should be encouraged to allow students more learning potential (Greenwood & Hickman, 1991). The learning that is presented in the house and outside of school is important because the student can bring that learning into the classroom and thrive.  Parent involvement is when a parent is able to help or participate in activities with their children in order for them to learn, this includes contact with teachers and volunteering (Nokali et al., 2010). Teachers are also vital in parent involvement, being open to help, not being overconfident in their skills as a teacher opening a window for parents to help their children (Greenwood & Hickman, 1991).

There are other considerations in parental involvement such as race, (Bower & Griffin, 2018) African American families tend to be more focused in the home compared to white families. Latino families tend to leave learning at school because of language barriers as they may not have English as their first language and thus may not be able to understand assignments, so they leave the school to teach these assignments. In the situation of a child with behavioral problems parental involvement has actually shown a decrease in academic performance compared to parents who did not engage in activities with their child with behavioral problems (McCormick et al., 2013.)

Heers et al, (2016) bring up community schools, which are institutions that are established in low-income areas to help support learning. Community schools have been utilized in other countries to open up a window other than conventional schooling. The differences in this community schooling are their focuses on the students and at home schooling. Community schooling also wants to involve parents in extracurricular activities as well (Jacobson, 2016). Jacobson (2016) brings up the operation of these community schools and their programs that deal with mental health, and education during before and after school. Jacobson also brings up the differences in conventional and community schooling talking about how conventional schooling is more standardized and community schooling is results based. Community schooling partners with conventional schooling to help improve students’ outcomes.

Parent involvement is important in schools and there are many ways that parents are able to participate in their child’s learning through help with homework or enrollment in community schools outside of traditional school time. Both of these options have helped students thrive in and out of schools.

Data and Methodology


A survey questionnaire was created by the 40 members of the Social Research and Program Evaluation team at Longwood University. The survey contained both open-ended and close-ended questions. Items on the survey were designed to evaluate SMART objectives of each of five activities that were completed the previous week by Head Start families. Beyond the objectives of the activities, participants were asked about their experiences with Head Start, take home activities, and demographic information about their households.


The non-probability sample for this study was based on the 51 children (ages three to five) who attend Head Start in two rural counties in Virginia. After activities were sent home with children for five days, the questionnaire was sent home with all 51 students. 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 Head Start teacher the following school day. Eleven questionnaires were returned the next school day. Teachers then sent a reminder home with children to return any outstanding questionnaires. This resulted in 0 questionnaires being returned. Overall, there was a 22% response rate.

Quantitative Analysis

Quantitative analysis of the returned surveys is based on the close-ended questions. For this study the dependent variable is parent involvement. The item from the questionnaire that was used to operationalize this was “How much were you involved in the activity?”. The answer choices for this item were on a “scale from 0-10. 0 being not at all and 10 being a great amount.” The independent variable for this study is which parent/guardian is most involved. The item from the questionnaire that was used to operationalize this was “What is your relationship to your child/children who attend Head Start?”. The answer choices for this question were “Mother”, “Father”, “Step-Mother”, “Step-Father”, “Grandparent”, “Guardian”, “Other”. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze these variables.

For the quantitative findings section, the following variables were analyzed using descriptive statistics: Parent engagement (on a scale of 0-10) and the average hours worked in a week by the guardians. For this variable the mean was 7.73, The median score is 8, The mode is 10, and the standard deviation is 2.94. This can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1.

Parent Involvement

Level of Involvement7.738102.94

The item that figure 1 is based on asks how many hours the guardian works a week on average. One respondent answered 0-10 hours. One respondent answered 21-30 hours. Seven respondents answered 31-40 hours. Two respondents answered 41-50 hours. This is seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Average hours worked during the week

A bivariate analysis was run, and it was found that there was a dip in parental involvement if the parent worked 31-40 hours a week, but the parental involvement went back up at 41-50 hours. This can be seen in Table 2.

Table 2.

Parental involvement based on avg. hours worked in a week

Hours worked in a week                    Parent Involvement
0-10 hours10
21-30 hours10
31-40 hours7.5
41-50 hours10

The key findings in this research are that most families that attend Head Start that turned in surveys were mostly involved and mostly worked 31-40 hours a week. The correlation between these variables shows that working 31-40 hours a week creates lower parent involvement. This may have skewed the research because of the low numbers in returned surveys that the average parental involvement of the most chosen option would have a lower average than those that are only selected once or three times in this case.

Qualitative Analysis

            Qualitative analysis of the returned surveys is based on the open-ended questions. The open-ended questions on the survey were “What did your family enjoy most about these activities?”, “What recommendations would you suggest to make these activities better?” and “What are your favorite ways to spend time with your child?”. To answer the research question, if families participate in any way, with these activities, then what is their level of involvement in their child’s learning? inductive open coding was used to determine reoccurring themes in the participant’s responses.

            Eleven surveys were coded, in each survey there was an open question that was coded. That question was “What did your family enjoy most about these activities?” Through coding, three themes were identified. The themes that were identified are spending time together, having fun, child learning.

            Of the eleven surveys five respondents responded to the first question with “spending time together” or something similar. Respondent 1 uses spending time together in their response, “These activities made it so easy + stress free to do something together.” This response says that these activities made it easy for this respondent to be able to spend time with their child. Respondent 2 uses spending time together in their response “Spending time together and learning new things” They are telling the researchers, that the activities allowed them and their child/children to spend time together. Respondent 3 uses spending time together by stating “The family time we spent together.” Respondent 3 is talking about how these activities brought together their family for quality time. Respondent 6 uses spending time together with “Being together and helping eachother.” This means that respondent 6 appreciated the vessel of the activity to be able to spend time with their family. Respondent 9 uses spending time together in their response with “The interaction with our child and the fact that the rest of the family was interested in participating as well.” Respondent 9 in their response tells us that their whole family were interested in participating and spending time together.

            The second theme, having fun, was used four times out of the eleven surveys that were collected. Respondent 1 uses having fun in “We did each activity at least twice. I loved the organization, detailed instruction, and materials being included. I would pay for activities like this.” They are stating that these activities were fun because of their ease and for them being willing to pay for activities like this. Respondent 4 uses having fun in “It brought a lot of fun and laughter into my family.” This respondent is saying that their family found these activities to be fun and that their family were participating. Respondent 9 includes having fun into their response “The interaction with our child and the fact that the rest of the family was interested in participating as well.” With this response it can be inferred that because the rest of the family was interested in participating, that they found these activities to be fun. Respondent 10’s response incorporates having fun with simply, “Having fun.” This tells us that to Respondent 10 having fun was a big part of these activities to them.

            Of the eleven responses collected, three of them contained learning new things in their favorite things about the activities. Respondent 2 uses learning new things with “Spending time together, and learning new things.” This response lets the researchers know that one of the positives of these activities is that there is the opportunity for the parents and children to learn. Respondent 4’s response uses learning new things in “My kids was able to learn a lot.” This respondent brings up that these activities opened a window for their children to learn a lot of new things through the completion of these activities. Respondent 6 states “Being together and helping each other.” Needing the help of each other can show that there are learning experiences happening though help either through how to pour paint for the leaf activity or through being able to identify dinosaurs in the dino buddy activity.

            The responses that were accumulated through the question “What did your family enjoy most about these activities?” Elicited many responses but the themes of many of them were, spending time together, having fun, and learning new things.  These activities were vessels for families to spend time together, open windows for children to learn new things, and ways for both children and parents to have fun putting things together, finding certain things, or creating art. Overall, the responses that were returned with the surveys were positive, meaning that there is not a lot of need for change in these activities.


The involvement of parents in influential to a child’s success in academics. The ability for a parent to participate in schooling can greatly improve a child’s learning capability. There are multiple ways that this can be done through programs like Head Start or setting up community schooling. Either way the opportunity to learn outside of the classroom is important for a student’s academic and mental well-being.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the response rates of parents during the survey were not ideal only getting 22% response rate. This may be because parents of students in Head Start may not have had the time to participate in these activities or were too busy with work or other COVID related issues. There is also the potential that these parents were just uninterested in taking a survey at the end of the day.

In the future, the use of an incentive of more than a children’s book may provide more responses to the survey or more that would be turned in. Another change that could be made would be making the survey a little shorter, length could have reduced the willingness of parents to fill out the forms. Lastly, Head Start could also potentially email the parents to remind them or notify them that these surveys are being sent out instead of relying on students to be able to inform and transport the surveys and survey information.


Altschul, I., & University of Denver Search for more articles by this author. (1970, January Linking socioeconomic status to the academic achievement of Mexican American youth through parent involvement in education: Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research: Vol 3, no 1. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from

Bower, H. A., & Griffin, D. (2011). Can the Epstein Model of Parental Involvement Work in a High-Minority, High-Poverty Elementary School? A Case Study. Professional School Counseling

El Nokali, N. E., Bachman, H. J., & Votruba-Drzal, E. (2010). Parent Involvement and Children’s Academic and Social Development in Elementary School. Child Development81(3), 988–1005.

Greenwood, G. E., & Hickman, C. W. (1991). Research and Practice in Parent Involvement: Implications for Teacher Education. The Elementary School Journal91(3), 279–288.

Heers, M., Van Klaveren, C., Groot, W., & van den Brink, H. M. (2016). Community Schools: What We Know and What We Need to Know. Review of Educational Research86(4), 1016–1051.

Jacobson, R. (2016). Community schools: A place-based approach to education and neighborhood change. Economic Studies. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

McCormick, M. P., Cappella, E., O’Connor, E. E., & McClowry, S. G. (2013). Parent Involvement, Emotional Support, and Behavior Problems: An Ecological Approach. The Elementary School Journal114(2), 277–300.

Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Robinson, J. C. (2008). Parent Involvement in Homework: A Research Synthesis. Review of Educational Research78(4), 1039–1101.

U.S. Department of Education Releases “Return To School Roadmap” to support students, schools, educators, and communities in preparing for the 2021-2022 school year. U.S. Department of Education Releases “Return to School Roadmap” to Support Students, Schools, Educators, and Communities in Preparing for the 2021-2022 School Year | U.S. Department of Education. (2021, August 2). Retrieved November 26, 2021, from