Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Why Do Parents Become Involved in Their Children's Education? Implications for School Counselors

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Why Do Parents Become Involved in Their Children's Education? Implications for School Counselors

Article excerpt

This article discusses a theoretical model of the parental involvement process that addresses (a) why parents become involved in their children's education, (b) the forms their involvement takes, and (c) how their involvement influences both proximal (e.g., motivation) and distal (e.g., achievement) student outcomes. The authors describe how school counselors can use this model to enhance schools' and parents' capacities to engage parents effectively in children's education. Specifically, they articulate how school counselors can educate teachers and parents about the importance of teacher and school invitations to involvement, productive forms of involvement, and students' active role in shaping their own educational outcomes. The authors briefly discuss future directions for research on parental involvement in the school counseling context.


Schools often dedicate precious resources toward the goal of increasing the incidence and effectiveness of family involvement m children s ed cation. Their efforts, however, are not always informed by systematic investigations of why parents become involved or how their involvement influences children's academic engagement and achievement. Our research addresses this disconnect between school practice and educational research in three ways. First, we examine parents' motivations for participating in a range of involvement activities. Second, we also consider what is happening psychologically when parents and children interact in one activity commonly targeted by school intervention programs: homework. Finally, we argue that parental involvement is such a vital resource to children's academic success because it contributes to the development and enactment of cognitive and motivational resources within the child rather than to the more distal outcome of standardized achievement test scores.

The framework that guides our inquiries is Hoover-Dempsey and Saudler's (1995, 1997, 2005) model of the parental involvement process (Figure 1). Structured in several sequential levels, the model addresses three questions: Why do parents become involved? What forms does their involvement take? And, how does their involvement influence student outcomes? The model is unique in the educational research literature because it focuses on understanding the process of parent involvement rather than identifying associations between parent involvement practices and student academic achievement. In previous work, we used the model to generate a fairly comprehensive set of recommendations for school practice (Hoover-Dempsey et al., 2005). In this article, we revisit those recommendations, updating our thinking in light of recent empirical tests of the model's hypotheses across grade levels and ethnic groups. We also focus on articulating how school counselors can leverage the model to enhance the incidence and effectiveness of family involvement within their local school context.

Our recommendations recognize that school counselors play a pivotal but often misunderstood role in bridging home and school. They also recognize that as a bridge, school counselors must be able to adapt their knowledge of the model as a tool for enhancing parent involvement across the constituencies they serve. For example, recommending and supporting the enactment of strategies that school leadership and staff may take requires a set of skills that differ from those needed when recommending and supporting actions that families may take to support children's educational success. Thus, our recommendations are organized in two major sections: working with colleagues and working with families. Before presenting our recommendations we give a brief description of the model and related research. We conclude by identifying potentially fruitful avenues for future research on family involvement in children's education.


Consistent with the larger theoretical perspective of social learning theory (Bandura, 1986), Hoover Dempsey and Sandler's model views human behavior as part of a reciprocal system that also includes personal factors (e. …

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