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Parental Involvement And Its Relationship To Discipline In Elementary Schools Essay

There is a plethora of research on books, journal articles, and stand-alone reports on the subject of parental involvement and its relationship to discipline in schools. These writings include research reports, expert opinions, theory papers, program descriptions, and guidelines for how to address this issue. Many of these reports are informative and useful, and because parental involvement and its link to discipline have been greatly emphasized in the past few years, there is considerable current information.

An important influence on the way parents raise their children are the experiences they have in their family of origin (Hops, Davis, Leve, & Sheeber, 2003). The way a person is raised influences the rest of their life. Socioeconomic status can have a very significant effect on a family and how parents behave with their children. This effect continues into the school environment and could be directly related to how students behave in schools (Hops et al. ). The extra stress that families from a lower Socio Economic Status (SES) household experience can cause parents to use more punitive parenting practices.

Some students have shown that, along with the economic hardships families from low SES groups experience, minority ethnic groups also have to deal with the added stress of racism (Pinderhuges, Dodge, Bates, Pettit, & Zelli, 2000). These factors all have an influence on parental involvement and its relationship to discipline in schools. Discipline concerns in schools are not new. MacDonald (2002) stated that student behaviors that require discipline have always existed in schools. However, it is the seriousness and widespread nature of discipline concerns that is disturbing.

School campuses, once islands of safety, are now faced with violence daily (MacDonald). School discipline problems are impacting every demographic segment of society. O’Donoghue (2005) stated that in the 1990s, discipline concerns were viewed widely as an inner city phenomenon, but since then, discipline concerns have been distributed across the entire spectrum of schools in the United States of America. At a time when our nation’s children need adult guidance the most, some parents retreat from involvement in their child’s schools.

Johnson (1999) stated that our nation’s youths are making desperately poor choices oftentimes guided by equally confused peers. All children, youths, adolescents, and teenagers alike need the advocacy and support of parents. Parental involvement is vital to the behavior and achievement of students. Unfortunately, many parents are doing much less than they should be doing. According to the U. S. Department of Education (2005), American mothers, on the average, spend less than half an hour a day talking, explaining, or reading with their children, and fathers spend less than 15 minutes interacting with their children.

As vital as parental involvement is to discipline in schools, many parents do much less than they should and many schools engage in practices which serve to limit the extent of parental involvement. Literature Review Several researchers have attempted to categorize parental involvement according to the nature or type of activity in which parents are involved. Epstein and Salinas (2004) suggested that parents may be involved as tutors, volunteers, advisory committee members, school board members, or room mothers or room fathers.

They grouped these types into three basic groups: advocates, decision-making partners, and co-production partners. They defined advocacy as politically active parental involvement; decision-making refers to parental involvement as committee members; and co-production refers to parental involvement in those areas or activities that contribute to school efforts for developing and planning and instructing students toward improved behavior and achievement (Epstein & Salinas).

Data from the 2005 Children’s Defense Fund indicated that every day in American, 13,076 students are suspended from school, 6,042 students are arrested, 3,356 high school students drop out of school, and 3,087 students are corporally punished. Additionally, more than 3 million acts of violence and theft were reported in American public schools (Walker, Colvin, & Ramsey, 2005). A factor in improving discipline in American schools is to empower school personnel to be proactive rather than reactive.

This means that teachers must become skilled in behavior management strategies that would enable them to create school environments that motivate students to act according to school and classroom rules as well as foster positive interpersonal interactions with peers and authority figures (Lewis & Sugai, 1999). In contrast to zero tolerance policies that emphasize punishing instead of positive consequences, it is critical to stress positive incentives that will motivate all students to behave (Lewis & Sugai).

When schools develop disciplinary action plans, parents should be included at every stage of the process to obtain their input and to give them a sense of shared responsibility. According to the National Parent Teacher Association (2004), the following three types of parental involvement are critical to a child’s education: (a) parents as first educators in the home; (b) parents as partners with the school; and (c) parents as advocates for children in society.

The full involvement of parents is vital to the success of these efforts. Barton, Coley, and Wenglinsky (1998) identified four basic components of parental involvement: the basic obligation of parents, school to home communications which include monitoring students’ discipline, parental involvement at school, and parental involvement in learning activities at home. Children growing up in society today need parental involvement and adult attention more than ever before (Comer, 2006).

Parents belong at the center of a child’s education. The single best way to improve students’ behavior is by strengthening parents’ role in it, by both reinforcing parents’ relationships with the school and by helping and encouraging parents in their critical job of teaching the young. Not all teachers are parents, but all parents are teachers (Comer). The most basic statement that can be made about parent and family involvement is that when it is effective, everyone benefits.

Research has shown us conclusively that effective parental involvement in education benefits parents, teachers, and students, whether the involvement is at the pre-school, elementary, middle, or high school level (State Department of Iowa, 1999). Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to examine issues surrounding parental involvement in schools. The experiences of parents were examined with the goal of giving parents an opportunity to express themselves in parent surveys.

The study brought new insights to the body of research concerning parental involvement and its relationship to discipline in schools. Research Questions 1. What is the relationship between the level of parental involvement and the number of student discipline referrals? 2. What is the relationship between socio economic status and the level of parental involvement? 3. What is the relationship between the level of parental involvement and student academic success? Limitations/Delimitations Limitations 1.

This study was limited to two elementary schools in a Trenton, North Carolina school district. 2. One limitation would be the honesty of parents’ responses. 3. Another limitation would be the sample size of the respondents; therefore, the findings should be viewed with caution. Delimitations 1. Duplication of the study may or may not produce the same results. 2. The study analyzed one school year of discipline records for students. Definition of Terms Parental Involvement – Parents’ level of active involvement in their child’s education (Epstein & Salinas, 2004).

Parenting Styles – What strategies parents use to as it relates to disciplining their children at home (Coolahan, McWayn, Fantuzzo, & Grim, 2002). Socioeconomic Status – A person’s social and economic status (Bradley & Corwyn, 2002). Student Academic Success – measured by students’ mathematics and reading scores obtained from the Georgia Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (GCRCT). Student Discipline – Control or order exercised over students. The system of rules used to maintain this control (Barton, Coley, & Wenglinsky, 1998).

Student Referrals – Discipline referrals students receive for disciplinary problems in school (Gosche, 2005). Importance of the Study It has become increasingly evident that parental involvement in education contributes to students’ success in school. Research also suggests that when parents are involved in their children’s learning at school and at home, discipline referrals decrease at school and academic progress increases (Comer, 2006). This study is important because it investigated the relationship between the level of parental involvement and student academic success.

It also investigated the relationship between the level of parental involvement and the number of student discipline referrals and the relationship between socio economic status and the level of parental involvement. It is essential for this data to be examined because the results will assist school boards, statewide evaluators, and school personnel in restructuring the learning environment to address and include parental involvement and its relationship to discipline in schools. Chapter Two will provide a review of the literature findings on parental involvement and discipline.

CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction Not all parents are involved in their children’s school although there is a dire need for parental involvement and guidance in schools (Kornbluth, 1997). All children, regardless of age, need the unwavering support of their parents to further guide their academic growth. According to the U. S. Department of Education (2005), “American mothers, on the average, spend less than half an hour a day talking, explaining, or reading with their children, and fathers spend less than 15 minutes daily interacting with their children” (p.

2). The U. S. Department of Education further stated that positive results such as increased student performance, better communication between parents and teachers, and better socialization skills occurred when parents play an active role in their children’s education. According to Barton, Coley, and Wenglinsky (1998), chaos in the schoolhouse requires disciplinary measures. An exemplary discipline program is truly vital to the success of schools, thus making good discipline an educational requirement.

Research has shown that when schools have discipline problems, academic achievement is negatively affected. As a result, a distinct relationship exists between how students achieve academically and their behavior in school (Barton, et al. ). A dire need exists for parents to partner and communicate with school staff so that problems with discipline could be reduced. Johnson (1999) stated that poor choices are often made by children and adolescents in the United States, and these choices are oftentimes aided by their bemused peers.

Research by Kornbluth (2006) has noted that many schools do not put forth enough effort to enlist parents’ support and involvement in schools. On the other hand, Waggoner and Griffith’s (2001) research revealed that students with involved parents performed at higher levels on standardized tests than students with uninvolved parents. In a similar vein, Kornbluth’s study found that students not only performed better in school but also improved in discipline when their parents were actively involved in their education.

It has become increasingly evident that parental involvement in education is a major contributing factor to reduced disciplinary concerns and a need for disciplinary action in schools. An article by the San Diego County Office of Education (2000) entitled, What Does Research Tell us About the Influence of Parental Involvement on Student Achievement, includes research on the benefits of parents nurturing their children at home and the importance of parents setting academic goals and expectations for their children. It also stresses the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s education as it relates to their academic success.

According to Parlardy (2005), parental involvement produces a decline in classroom disruptions and the need for disciplinary action while improving school climate, teacher and student morale, and student achievement. Cotton’s (2001) study revealed the importance of effective schoolwide and classroom discipline strategies and lists various ways to improve discipline in schools such as staff commitment to achievement, parental involvement, high expectations for students and faculty, clearly defined rules, and good school climate.

Additionally, Wright, Wright, and Heath (2004) provided research on how the No child Left Behind act affects parents, teachers, administrators, and students as it relates to discipline and parental involvement. Waggoner and Griffith’s (2001) research supported parental involvement since it strengthens teacher/parent/student relationships and reinforces teachers’ expectations in the home environment. Homework is another area where parental involvement is critical.

When parents are aware of what the curriculum entails and what teachers expect, they are better equipped to help their children with homework so that increased learning could occur. Kornbluth (2006) provided data to support the importance of parental involvement in schools. The results of their study revealed that students with involved parents performed better on tests than students with uninvolved parents. Hand in hand with parental involvement is involving the community in the school. Epstein and Salinas (2004) noted the benefits of partnering with the community.

These benefits included having businesses become partners in education and serving on school councils along with parents. The benefit that is derived from this is that the community is involved in the decision-making process of the school and; therefore, has a pulse for the school’s goals and missions. As a result, one of the goals will also be to decrease disciplinary infractions and improve student learning. What is Parental Involvement? There are numerous books, journal articles, and stand-alone reports on the subject of parents’ involvement in their children’s education.

Parental involvement is a term that frequently has different meanings to people. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that parental involvement covers a multitude of interactions between parents, students, and the school (Swap, 1998). Swap further postulated that parental involvement may be as simple as a parent attending a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting or a conference with the teacher or as complex as representing other parents in decision-making situations or other aspects of school governance.

In general, parents may take an active role, passive role, or non-involvement role regarding their participation in the school their child attends. A review of literature indicates that there are several strategies and activities available to parents, teachers, and administrators to obtain optimum parental involvement at different levels of commitment. For example, parents may volunteer to read to a class, become a book buddy for a student, or work with their child on take-home learning materials (Gordon, 1998).

The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that parental involvement is a component that is positively related to improving students’ discipline and achievement in schools. When defining parental involvement, it is very important to consider Brandt’s (1979) four basic assumptions about parental involvement. The first assumption is that the family’s capabilities for providing a learning environment that accentuates the positive elements of cognitive and emotional factors can be improved (parent impact model).

The second assumption is that the child’s health, nutrition, social, and psychological development influences academic learning (comprehensive services model). The third assumption is that when schools are made more responsive to parents, this responsiveness will lead to better discipline and achievement by the child (school impact model). The fourth assumption for parental involvement is that everything relates to everything else (community impact model). Swap (1998) asserted that various models have different assumptions and goals that must be clear to all participants.

Swap’s premise of parental involvement described four models and their goals: The protective model’s goal is to reduce conflict between parents and educators, primarily through the separation of parents’ and educators’ functions and to protect the school from interference by parents. The second model’s goal (school to home transmission) is to enlist parents in supporting the objectives of the school. The third model’s goal (curriculum enrichment) is to expand and extent the school’s curriculum by incorporating the contributions of families.

Finally, the fourth model’s goal (partnership) is for parents and educators to work together to accomplish a common mission – success for all children. Barriers to Effective Parental Involvement According to Hampton, Mumford, and Bond (1998), many students come from home environments described as America’s worst problems such as drug abuse, neglect, alcoholism, and domestic violence. On the other hand, Kornbluth (1997) maintained that not all students are in trouble because their parents are irresponsible, lazy, or uninvolved.

Many students come from good homes, and they have parents who are doing their best to care for them. Often parents face different circumstances that affect how well they believe they can make contributions to their children’s education. Issues such as language barriers, work schedules, transportation, and access to childcare, for example, affect the frequency and conditions under which parents believe they can realistically spend time in schools (Kornbluth).

Seeley (1999) noted that another complicating factor facing parental involvement is the idea that some well-meaning school staff members feel that they have been delegated as the educators of children and the sole responsibility for education is in their hands. Seely proposed that this idea of delegation has been subconsciously signaled to the parents so that they do not need to be involved in their children’s educational experiences. In brief, Seeley’s study concluded that one must convince all involved in the child’s education that parental involvement is essential to the education process.

This study further implied that once parents and teachers understand the importance of parental involvement, they will be willing to commit do doing all that is necessary to achieve the identified goals. Davies (1998a) revealed that the growing number and variety of students’ ethnic, economic, and social backgrounds make reaching out to families increasingly complex. Educators who think only in terms of traditional families are likely to have a particularly hard time dealing with today’s great variety of family types.

Davies suggested that educators must face their own misperceptions about parents. However, a child born to parents who are mature, educated, employed, and married is statistically more likely to do well rather than a child who lacks that family support, even if the child is exposed to a host of government intervention programs. Parenting Styles and Ethnicity According to Coolahan, McWayn, Fantuzzo, and Grim (2002), parenting styles differ based on ethnicity and are also determined by parents’ characteristics.

Parents from different cultures may have different characteristics and may, therefore, use different parenting styles when raising their children. For example, ethnic differences have been found in the acceptance of spanking. Thus, there may also be ethnic differences in parenting (Pinderhughes, Dodge, Bates, Pettit, & Zelli, 2000). Research has found the authoritarian parenting style to be more common among African-American families than European-American families (Clark & Gross, 2003). Families from the same SES group but from different ethnic groups have been found to have differing levels of stress.

For example, African-American families with low SES report higher levels of stress than European-American families with the same SES. This could be due to the fact that African-American families are also vulnerable to additional race-related stressors (Pinderhughes et al. , 2000). The Asian-American culture differs from European and Mexican-American cultures. Studies have shown that the styles of parenting used among Asian-American families may differ significantly in some areas. For example, Liu (2003) found two main types of parenting styles among Asian-American families.

They are care and overprotection. When parents use the care styles of parenting, they are affectionate, emotionally warm, empathic, and close to their children. However, many Asian-American families use a style of parenting that closely resembles an authoritarian style called overprotection in which parents strictly enforce rules and discourage independent behavior. The overprotection style of parenting is comprised of parental control, overprotection, intrusion, excessive contact, and prevention of independent behavior.

Other studies have found that the families who use the care style of parenting are closer and more functional with each other (Kee, Sim, Tech, Tian, & Ng, 2003). They also found the families who use the overprotection style of parenting to be more dysfunctional on the average. Other studies on parenting styles and ethnicity have found African-American families from low SES groups to have a more punitive attitude towards their children because of the higher levels of stress they experience (Pinderhughes, et al. , 2000). This attitude would lead to a more authoritarian style of parenting.

Authoritative parenting predicts good psychosocial outcomes and problem behaviors in all ethnic groups and is associated with increased academic performance (Steinberg, Darling, & Fletcher, 2005). Parenting Styles and Their Relationship to Discipline Parenting styles begin determining, to a significant degree, how a child will develop at a very early age. For example, with infants, sensitive, responsive maternal behavior is associated with healthy and secure mother-infant relationships (Isabella, Belsky, & von Eye, 1999).

According to Schaefer (2000), parenting style is the single most important factor associated with conduct disorders. Behavioral instability and non-optimal parenting across four generations was examined by Gosche (2005), and it was reported that non-optimal parenting is reproduced in subsequent generations due to the development of unstable behavioral styles in children exposed to poor parenting. Children who are exposed to more hostility from their parents are more likely to display aggressive behavioral styles as adolescents and adults which, in part, cause their aggressive and hostile behavior toward their children (Gosche).

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