Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Parent Involvement in Preschool: Predictors and the Relation of Involvement to Preliteracy Development

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Parent Involvement in Preschool: Predictors and the Relation of Involvement to Preliteracy Development

Article excerpt

A substantial body of work in school-aged children has established a relation between parent involvement in children's schooling and children's academic achievement. In contrast, there is much less research about parent involvement in preschool, (1) and little is known about factors that influence the earliest stages of parent involvement. The introduction to this article first provides a brief overview of research on the relation between involvement and academic development with older children. It is then argued that more research is needed on this relation in preschool, given the importance of emergent academic development at this age. Empirical data on the relation between involvement and achievement in preschool are reviewed, and reasons for the likely importance of preschool involvement are presented. Finally, it is asserted that more research is needed on the effects and predictors of early involvement, and the relevance of these issues for school psychologists is described. The current study, which takes a step toward addressing this gap in the research literature, is then presented.

Parent Involvement and Grade School Achievement

Parent involvement in children's schooling predicts academic achievement from kindergarten through high school (i.e., 5-18 years). The research establishing this relation in elementary school and beyond is substantial. For example, Jimerson, Egeland, and Teo (1999) showed that parent involvement in the first 3 years of children's formal schooling predicted upward changes in achievement trajectories through sixth grade, based on information provided by teachers about the amount of teacher-parent contact. Similarly, Izzo, Weissberg, Kasprow, and Fendrich (1999) assessed parent involvement in kindergarten using teachers' reports about four aspects of parent involvement (number of contacts, quality of interactions, participation in school activities, and home activities). Each aspect was assessed with one item, on a scale appropriate to the content. Involvement predicted children's later academic achievement.

A large study by Reynolds, Ou, and Topitzes (2004) established links between involvement and achievement in early elementary school, in children ages 8-12 years. In this study, dichotomous ratings of general involvement (average or better versus below average) from both parents and teachers were summed across each year of the study. Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994) showed that parent involvement in Grades 6-8 predicted students' achievement, using aggregate measures of involvement from student, parent, and child questionnaires (5, 16, and 16 items on 3-, 4-, and 5-point Likert scales, respectively). The items used in this assessment focused on specific parent behaviors and attendance at school functions. Finally, in a study of high school students, Bogenschneider (1997) found that students' grade point averages were predicted by their perceptions of their parents' involvement in school activities, on a 5-item scale (attend school programs; watch students in activities; help choose courses; help with homework; monitor school progress), with each item scored as never, seldom, or usually.

Research establishing a relation between involvement and achievement across elementary school is robust across methodologies and measurement approaches. As described, convergent evidence comes from multiple informants, including teachers, children, and parents. Longitudinal studies provide support for the lasting effects of involvement. There is also some suggestive experimental evidence for the importance of parental involvement among grade-school children, although some methodological issues limit this literature (Fishel & Ramirez, 2005). Nevertheless, in sum, a strong research literature has established parent involvement as an important factor in grade-school children's development. Much less is known, however, about involvement in preschool.

Parent Involvement and Preschoolers' Development

Parent involvement is widely believed to be critical to children's early academic development (Children's Aid Society, 2003; Edutopia, 2000). …

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