An Investigation of Teachers' Attitudes between School and Home Based Family Intervention Models Utilized by Public School Teachers in the People's Republic of China

Article excerpt

Teachers' attitudes toward family intervention are of great import on ways of increasing student achievement and cooperative interactions between teachers and family. Despite expanding school growth, there is very little research in China that examines teachers' attitudes toward family intervention.

In this study, 159 kindergarten teachers in China demonstrated their attitudes towards family intervention by completing a research survey which included 35 items. The results showed that Chinese kindergarten teachers had positive attitudes towards both school-based and home-based family intervention but their attitudes towards school-based family intervention were less positive. Suggestions were made to help Chinese teachers to view school-based family intervention in a more positive way.

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The relationship between family and school, as addressed by Swap (1993), can be summarized into four models: (1) protective model, (2) school to home transition model, (3) curriculum enrichment model, and (4) partnership model. Briefly, protective model is defined as the separation of parents' and educators' functions to reduce conflict between parents and educators. School to home transition model is viewed as to enlist parents in supporting objectives of the school. In the curriculum enrichment model, school's curriculum is expanded by incorporating families' contributions. Finally, in the partnership model, parents and educators work together to accomplish a common mission. Decker and Decker (2003) pointed out that Swap's four models of parent-school relationships reflect a continuum of increasing parent involvement.

By following these four models, families can demonstrate different types of intervention and involvement in child education: that is, school-based intervention and home-based intervention. According to Muller and Kerbow (1993), school-based intervention refers to family's participation in children's education within school settings or through interaction with school personnel, such as parent-teacher conference, communicating with school personnel during home visits, and volunteering at school. Swap (1993)'s curriculum enrichment model and partnership model may fit in this school-based perspective.

In contrast, home-based intervention means family's participation in children's education within home settings. This includes, but is not limited to: conversation about school between parents and child, parents' reading to child, parents' helping with homework and parents' engagement in children's extra curricular. Swap (1993)'s protective model and school to home transition model may fit in this home-based perspective.

Research (e.g., Fantuzzo & McWayne, 2002; Scribner, Young, & Pedroza, 1999; McNeal 1999) shows a clear and positive relationship between the outcomes for children and family intervention, both school-based and home-based intervention. Meanwhile, as Swap (1993) suggested, the more families get involved in school, the better teachers and families can work together to accomplish a common mission, generally, for all children in school to achieve success. Research (e.g., Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997) also demonstrates that teachers' attitudes toward family intervention play a key role in family's willingness and extent of participation in child education. Teachers' positive attitudes toward family intervention are potentially very influential in family's decision about involvement in their children's education (Hoover-Dempsey & Sandier, 1997). Meanwhile, teachers' negative perceptions about family intervention may inhibit home-school linkage (Lazar & Slostad, 1999).

Lazar and Slostad (1999) also argued that teachers' attitudes toward family intervention could be shaped by culture and history. As Gu (2006) summarized, family intervention in China has distinctive characteristics due to certain culture and historical background. …