Mother, teacher, and principal perceptions of parental involvement in kindergarten programs
Child development research suggests that parental involvement is an important factor associated with gains in student achievement. Despite the recognition of the importance of parental involvement in a child's education, a serious gap exists between theory and practice. One reason for this gap is that little is known about the perceptions of mothers, teachers, and principals regarding the role of parents in the education of children. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of mothers, teachers, and principals regarding the specific levels at which parents have been involved and the specific levels at which mothers, teachers, and principals prefer parents to be involved in the kindergarten program. The five-level parental involvement paradigm developed by Gordon (1970) in which early childhood programs used parents as (1) audience, (2) educators of their own children, (3) volunteers, (4) trained workers, and (5) decision-makers was used in the study. A factor analysis collapsed these five levels into home-helpers, supporter-aides, and teacher-evaluators. Nineteen white elementary school principals, 19 white female kindergarten teachers, and 76 white mothers of kindergarten children completed a parental involvement questionnaire. They were asked to respond to: (1) how parents had been involved in the kindergarten program; and (2) how they felt parents should be involved in the kindergarten program. The findings, which contrasted sharply with findings from previous studies, suggest that: (1) perceptual differences exist between teachers and principals in the supporter-aide role for actual parental involvement; and (2) no perceptual differences exist between mothers and educators in their view of the role of mothers in the education of children.