More Research On The Importance Of Parents Feeling A Sense Of Self-Efficacy

In my book on parent engagement and my more extended writing on the topic, I emphasize that one key difference between parent “involvement” and parent “engagement” is that we help parents develop their own sense of self-efficacy (confidence and competence) when we “engage.”

A new study reinforces its importance.

How Parents See Themselves May Affect Their Child’s Brain and Stress Level is an article summarizing the researchers conclusions.

Here’s an excerpt:

A mother’s perceived social status predicts her child’s brain development and stress indicators, finds a study at Boston Children’s Hospital. While previous studies going back to the 1950s have linked objective socioeconomic factors — such as parental income or education — to child health, achievement and brain function, the new study is the first to link brain function to maternal self-perception.

In the study, children whose mothers saw themselves as having a low social status were more likely to have increased cortisol levels, an indicator of stress, and less activation of their hippocampus, a structure in the brain responsible for long-term memory formation (required for learning) and reducing stress responses.

I’m adding this to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Research On The Importance Of Family Dinners


Thanks to Joe Mazza, I learned about a research paper that was just published on the importance of family dinners.

Here’s an excerpt, which I suspect shares results that are not surprising to anyone:

This year’s study again demonstrates that the magic that happens at family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the conversations and family engagement around the table. Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to say their parents know a lot about what’s really going on in their lives, and such parental knowledge is associated with decreased incidence of teen marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use. Family dinners are the perfect opportunity when teens can talk to their parents and parents can listen and learn.

Family dinner is also an ideal time to strengthen the quality of family relationships. Teens having frequent family dinners are more likely to have excellent relationships with their parents. As the quality of teens’ relationships with their parents declines, their likelihood of using marijuana, alcohol and tobacco rises.

Interesting Research On Immigrant Parents & Their Children

Lesli Maxwell over at Education Week has written a good summary post, Immigrant Paradox Less Consistent in Young Children, Study Finds, about a new student related to English Language Learners.

The study itself is lengthy, but has an interesting section on immigrant parents and schools. I was going to copy and paste that section because it’s pretty short, but it unfortunately is “protected” and won’t allow that action.

So, just go to the study link and you’ll find the family involvement section on page 10 and 11. It’s worth a visit.

I’ll be adding this info to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Using “African Models Of Leadership” To Strengthen Parent Engagement

Black Parental Involvement In South African Rural Schools: Will Parents Every Help In Enhancing Effective School Management is a research paper containing the results of interviews with South African principals and principals.

Many of the issues will sound familiar to us in the West. What’s particularly interesting, though, are the comments made by the research about how to respond to the challenge using “African models of leadership.”

It’s relatively short for an academic study, and very accessible — definitely worth a read.

I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

Wow, The Second “Must-Read” Parent Engagement Study In A Week!

Earlier this week, I posted about what I considered to be an extraordinarily important study on parent engagement (see Must-Read Report: “What Roles Do Parent Involvement, Family Background, and Culture Play in Student Motivation?”).

Based on the wide popularity of that post, many people agreed with my assessment.

Now, purely by chance, I’ve come upon another study that, though I wouldn’t say it quite reaches the level of importance of the one I mentioned earlier, it certainly comes very, very close.

William H. Jeynes is a California professor who did some exceptional research on parent engagement in 2007 which I cited in my book, Building Parent Engagement In Schools.

He published this newer study I’m highlighting in today’s post a year ago and, for the life of me, I can’t believe I haven’t heard about it earlier. It’s titled A Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Different Types of Parental Involvement Programs for Urban Students and, like his earlier research, it’s not behind a paywall.

I feel this new study, as did his first one, includes some of the most valuable research on parent engagement that you’re going to find anywhere. It’s a meta-analysis of fifty-one other studies. It’s a typical academic paper but, if you’re interested in parent engagement, it’s definitely worth going through it.

Here’s an excerpt from his conclusions:

It is apparent that parental involvement initiatives that involve parents and their children reading together (i.e., engaging in “shared reading”), parents checking their children’s homework, parents and teachers communicating with one another, and partnering with one another have a noteworthy relationship with academic outcomes. In addition, situation specific parental involvement efforts such as Head Start and ESL training for parents yielded effect sizes in the expected direction, albeit falling short of statistical significance.

I’m adding this info to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Study: Different Ways Parents Relate To Children’s Academics Depending On Gender

Parental Involvement and Children’s School Achievement is a new study from Canada that looked a parent involvement through a “lens” that I haven’s seen other research use — gender. Here’s a portion of their summary:

Fathers’ academic pressure was predictive of lower achievement, whereas mothers’ encouragement and sup-port predicted higher achievement. Both parents used more academic pressure with their sons, whereas using more encouragement and support with their daughters. The effects of parental involvement were mediated through children’s academic competence. This study demonstrates the interactive influences of parents’ educational involvement and children’s personal characteristics in predicting school achievement.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Must-Read Report: “What Roles Do Parent Involvement, Family Background, and Culture Play in Student Motivation?”

Note: When I originally posted this, there was a problem with the link to the report. It’s fixed now.

What Roles Do Parent Involvement, Family Background, and Culture Play in Student Motivation? is from The Center On Education Policy, and, let me tell you, it’s a must-read for anyone interested in parent – and student – engagement.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Big New Report On Parent Engagement In United Kingdom

A new research report on parent engagement in the United Kingdom has just been released.

The Rapid review of parental engagement and narrowing the gap in attainment for disadvantaged children doesn’t seem to share anything that would be new to people involved in parent engagement efforts.

I did like that it talked about “instances of parents from ethnic minorities telling stories in class in their community’s home language, or attending school themselves for language and literacy classes.” I’ve written about that and how I’ve done it in my classes, but haven’t seen it talked much about in other areas.

I also liked that it mentioned how important it is to “stress the need for a genuine collaboration between parents and facilitators, with a two-way exchange.” However, a big disappointment was that it didn’t seem to follow up that statement with specific examples highlighting how that was done.

Since it doesn’t share anything new, I’m not going to add it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement”.

However, I am going to add it to The Best Resources On Parent Engagement In Countries Other Than The U.S.

New Parent Involvement Research

Anne Henderson, the well-known researcher on parent involvement, is making a presentation to the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE) today, and was gracious enough to share her PowerPoint presentation.

She describes her presentation as:

a short update on important new research, including a study from Great Britain that shows dramatic gains for special education students in schools where teachers and parents have collaborative conversations about learning, focused on skills that need to be strengthened. Information about this study is in the PPT…

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Another Reason To Wonder About Huge Parent Engagement Experiment In Providence

I’ve previously published a couple of posts wondering about a $5 million dollar experiment with low-income families being done in Providence, Rhode Island (see Could Providence’s Word Counting Project Be A “Boondoggle” As Well As Being Creepy?).

A new study seems to question the research behind that experiment. Check out my other blog for a post I just published there,Intriguing Study Seems To Question Importance Of Word Quantity Spoken To Young Children.

“Parents need help, not shame, in school involvement”

Parents need help, not shame, in school involvement is the headline over a letter to the editor at The Chicago Tribune.

It’s written by the authors of an important study on parent involvement that I’ve previously posted about.

More important than their letter, though, is a link within it to a very readable summary of their research, Ready, Willing and Able?

I’m adding that summary to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

New Study: “Parent Involvement in Grade School Boosts Child’s Social Skills” (not the biggest surprise)

Parent Involvement in Grade School Boosts Child’s Social Skills is an article summarizing the not-surprising result of a new study:

The research team found that parents who increased school visitations and encouraged educational progress at home saw their child’s social skills improve. Among other things, students showed more self-control and cooperative behavior.

At the same time, the more parental involvement the less children tended to engage in aggressive and/or disruptive behaviors. In addition, children were less likely to be either depressed or anxious.

Interesting Research On Parents With Chronically Absent Children

Attendance Works, an organization emphasizing school attendance, has just published a “new toolkit” called Bringing Attendance Home: Engaging Parents in Preventing Chronic Absence.

It’s a good piece of work, though most of the ideas in it aren’t anything new. However, one thing did stick out, and that was some recent research done with parents of chronically absent children. It’s in the report, and you can also read about it in a blog post of theirs titled What Parents Really Think About School Attendance.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Interesting New Research On Parent Involvement

Sarah Sparks at Education Week has published a very readable summary of new parent involvement research. Her post, Parents Need Differentiated School Engagement, Study Finds, explains that research has:

identified three main types of parents, each of which a school must address to have a successful family-involvement program:

• Help seekers: Roughly 19 percent of parents are most concerned with finding out their own children’s academic progress and learning how they can help their students improve.

• School helpers: This 27 percent of parents is the closest to the traditional picture of the “PTA mom and dad.”

• Potential transformers: Finally, 31 percent of parents said they were interested in and ready to be more involved in shaping how the schools operate.

It’s definitely worth reading her entire post.

I’m adding it to “The Best Research Available On Parent Engagement.”

Study Shows Head Start Supports Parent Engagement

Two new studies were just released examining Head Start. They were mixed in some areas, but positive about its effect on parent engagement.

Here’s an excerpt from a summary

One of the studies, by the nonprofit Mathematica Policy Research, found that parents of children enrolled in Head Start became more engaged in teaching their children at home: They increased (slightly) the frequency that they told their children stories, played games, did arts and crafts and went to the library. The report also found that children in Head Start made significant academic progress during the year on skills like identifying numbers and shapes.

The second of the studies, known as the Head Start Impact Study, is the latest in a series of reports that has looked at the academic, social-emotional and health outcomes for Head Start students over time. Previously, the study had found that gains made in preschool for children enrolled in Head Start tapered off in first grade. The latest report shows that nearly all the health benefits and academic and social emotional gains were gone by third grade. There were also some negative outcomes, including a greater likelihood of being held back.

But parenting skills continued to be better for Head Start families, and in some cases social skills and reading ability were somewhat higher for Head Start children in third grade.

“One of the strengths of the Head Start program is the parent involvement and parent engagement,” said Linda Smith, ACF deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development, in a phone interview. “And it is borne out in the study.”

Community Schools and Parent Engagement

I’ve posted often both about my support of community schools and about my concern that they generally don’t encourage parent engagement (see Parent Leadership Is Often “Missing Link” In Community Schools).

Here’s an excerpt from a new study that found the same problem:

This study investigated the effectiveness of a community school’s strategy in influencing the motivators of parental involvement. Through a mixed-method, case-study investigation of a long-established community school in New York City, the study found inconclusive evidence that community school operations positively influenced the motivations of parents to involve themselves in their child’s education. In particular, the site found a low level of parent participation, lack of efficacious mastery experiences and incidents of social persuasion, lack of a sense of collective leadership among parents and staff, and a low level of relational trust between parents and the school organization. Nevertheless, enough positive evidence was collected to suggest that community school operations remain promising strategies capable of positively influencing parents to become more involved in their children’s education. The lack of significant increases in parent motivation may be due to the lack of fidelity to which the site implemented its own community school model, the difficulties of sustaining reform over several decades in an impoverished urban setting, and the priorities of the New York City Department of Education.

Everything You Wanted To Know About Family Literacy But Were Afraid To Ask…

The National Center For Family Literacy has announced the release of a treasure trove of research on family literacy.

Here’s their announcement:

We are pleased to announce the online publication of the 21st National Conference on Family Literacy Research Strand Conference Proceedings.This document is a collection of research papers from featured sessions presented at the NCFL conference in San Diego in March of this year.

This is the first time a published compendium of the presentations is available. This is possible in partnership with Goodling Institute at Penn State University.

Now more than ever, we must highlight and make accessible research on family literacy. These proceedings are another step in bringing family literacy, as a research-supported issue, to the forefront of policy, academic, and practice-based conversations.

In this publication, you will have the opportunity to explore many facets of the family literacy field as researchers address a range of pertinent topics. These proceedings papers were chosen because they are relevant and informative to teachers, administrators, and scholars.

We were encouraged by the success and feedback we received on the research strand presentations at the conference in March and hope that these proceedings will remind each of us of the work that is being done and continues to be done in the name of family literacy.

The compendium can be accessed on the Goodling Institute website by clicking here.