Academic journal article School Community Journal

Parents' Involvement among the Arab Ethnic Minority in the State of Israel

Academic journal article School Community Journal

Parents' Involvement among the Arab Ethnic Minority in the State of Israel

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined parent involvement in children's education among the Israeli Arab population and the degree of influence of various background factors on their involvement. The correlations between parent involvement and pupil achievement were examined in relation to the characteristics of the pupils (i.e., age, gender). About 400 parents participated in this research, and a parent involvement questionnaire was used to measure the degree of involvement. It was found that parents of girls participated and were involved in their daughters' studies more than parents of boys. It was also found that the more parents supported and believed in the importance of learning, the higher their children's achievement was. Regarding age level, it was found that parents of children in elementary schools participated and were more involved in the education of their child than parents of children in secondary schools.

Key words: parental involvement, Israel, Arab, ethnic minority, student achievement, age, gender, parents, expectations, aspirations, elementary, secondary

Introduction

Since the 1970s, social changes in Israel and throughout the world have increased the desire of parents to take an active role in the educational system (Friedman & Fisher, 2003). Beginning in the 1990s, attempts were made to understand the reasons that led to parental involvement (Friedman & Fisher, 2002), and there was an increased demand for expanding the involvement of parents and for creating models for the relations between the parents and the school (Toran-Kaplan, 2004).

Parents can have a strong influence over the education of their children. They have the ability to shape, nurture, and develop them as pupils who are active, interested, diligent, creative, and tolerant by showing positive involvement in their children's studies and in their educational activities in general. On the other hand, parents can destroy motivation and learning capabilities by negligence and indifference towards their children's achievements.

Henderson and Mapp (2002) reviewed 51 studies and concluded that there is "...a positive and convincing relationship between family involvement and benefits for students, including improved academic achievement." This relationship holds across families of all economic, racial/ethnic, and educational backgrounds and for students of all ages.

In view of the importance of this issue, and considering the paucity of data and findings that could clarify and describe the situation regarding this issue in the Arab sector in Israel, it is important to investigate the matter empirically from various aspects with reference to cultural and gender-related characteristics. The aims of this study are to measure the level of parent involvement among the Arab population in the State of Israel and to examine the relationship between the various background factors and the involvement of parents in the education of their children.

Parent Involvement

The definition of parent involvement includes a variety of activities by parents: (a) conversations at home; (b) attention and supervision at home; (c) contact between parents and school; and (d) participation in parent-teacher meetings. Henderson and Mapp (2002) defined parent involvement as:

* Engaging in learning activities at home, including helping with reading skills and checking homework

* Supervising children and monitoring how they spend their time out of school

* Talking about school and what children are learning

* Attending school events, going to parent-teacher conferences, meeting with teachers, and volunteering in the classroom or school

Similarly, Ho and Willms (1996) identified four basic types of involvement. Two are based at home and two at school:

* Discussing school activities

* Monitoring out-of-school activities

* Contacts with school staff

* Volunteering and attending parent-teacher conferences and other school events

Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) conducted a literature review to learn why parents become involved in their children's learning. …

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