A Comparison Study of Educational Involvement of Hearing Parents of Deaf and Hearing Children of Elementary School Age

Article excerpt

This study was conducted to determine if a difference exists in level of educational involvement between hearing parents of deaf children and hearing parents of hearing children. Participating parents were asked to complete a 23-question survey about their involvement in their children's education over the past year. Neither group of parents demonstrated a significantly higher level of involvement in their children's education. However, parents of deaf children observed their children in the classroom more than parents of hearing children; parents of hearing children volunteered in their child's classroom more than parents of deaf children.

Research shows that parental involvement in a child's education is critical to student achievement (Henderson & Berla, 1994). Because efforts to improve children's education are much more effective when the parents are actively involved, it is essential that parents of both deaf and hearing children be actively involved in their children's education. In recent years, there has been a decrease in the amount of parental involvement in children's education. A study of a middle school (Amato, 1994) showed a low level of involvement and interest among parents in their children's education. A 1year program was designed to motivate parents and involve them in their children's education. As a result, parental participation in the parent-teacher organization significantly increased.

We addressed four concerns in this study. One was that no research had been conducted comparing hearing parents of deaf children and hearing parents of hearing children in regard to their involvement in their children's education. Another was that teachers felt that the number of parents actively involved in their children's education was declining. The third concern was that teachers felt that parents passively rather than actively participated in their children's education, that is, that parents failed to apply what was taught in the classroom to activities outside school. The breakdown of communication between parents and teachers was the fourth concern (L. Clee, personal communication, 1995; C. Robuck, personal communication, 1995; L. Shepski, personal communication, 1995).

One way to encourage parental involvement in deaf children' education is a "home book." This book is used for correspondence between parents and teachers. It may also include lesson plans, which allow parents to do enrichment activities with their child outside school. The plans serve as a reference for homework. The home book can also be used to stimulate parental involvement in hearing children's education.

Another way to encourage parental involvement is to hold parent workshops. This is true for parents of both deaf and hearing children. J. Marotto (personal communication, 1995) supports the idea of inviting parents to attend socials, to take training sessions on working with their children, to volunteer to help with class functions, and to engage in teacher-led parentchild activities at school. Nonthreatening activities such as these, as well as parent support groups, provide ways that parents can become actively involved in their children's education. Parents can use information from the workshops, support groups, and training sessions to create activities for the home. The home provides a relaxed setting for parents and children and increases the quality and quantity of school-related interactions between parent and child.

Daily activities that parents incorporate into family routines can make a difference in children's success at school. The "home curriculum" teaches children values (Bennett, 1986). Parents impart this "curriculum" through daily conversations, household routines, inquiries about school matters, and affectionate concern for their child's progress (Bennett, 1986). These activities are equally important for deaf and hearing children. A home curriculum provides children with consistency and stability. …