This assignment examines the parental perception of children’s success at an international school in Dubai when the parents are involved in their children’s educational journey. This qualitative assignment depends on individual narratives. It will explore its significance in local and international contexts and the relationship between the identified themes. The literature review will look at the prospect of several scholars and their observations about the significance of parental involvement in their children’s learning journey since their childhood. According to Olsen and Fuller (2010), parental involvement in students’ learning activities promotes students’ morale and self-containment. According to Sapungan (2014), parental involvement enhances students’ morale.
Parental involvement in a child’s learning journey acknowledges the student to have a decisive attitude and improved behaviors (Kraft and Dougherty, 2013). According to Beack (2010), parental involvement and support from schools help to improve students’ overall attainment. These findings suggest that parental attachment to their child’s education has an impact on learning outcomes.
Parental involvement takes many forms, such as homework help, active Involvement in Parent-Teacher Conferences (PTC), and educating their children about their behavior in class. Parental involvement is not mandated in schools, and parents should see it as a feasible resource that could impact student learning and overall achievement. Through this partnership, students may see the value of education through the use of their parents.
According to Von Otter (2014), parents who are intensely involved in the field of education and awareness of school-based activities can significantly help provide a conducive environment for the child to complete home learning tasks. Contrary to that, according to Gracia (2014), parental involvement is linked to their belief system, which affects the way parents are directly or indirectly involved in their child’s academic attainment. Some parents who regard their children’s education as the school’s responsibility may not be willing to be so conscientiously involved.
According to Emerson et al.(2012), minimal or no involvement of parents in their children’s schooling can hinder the overall academic progress of the children. However, according to Sapungan and Sapungan (2014), some parents could not connect with their children’s school or could not actively take part in their learning because of the problems they face themselves such as their lack of talent and impressions that restrict them from doing so. Building on Sapungan’s insights, this assessment investigates the need for what factors are involved that compel a child and his/her parent to hamper prospective academic attainment and potential involvement.
The Research Questions
- How does parental involvement stipulate provision for overall student achievement?
- What are the interpersonal barriers that lead to low or no parental involvement?
- What are the best practices to explore that will enhance a partnership between the school and parents that may enhance student motivation?
This research was conducted at one of the IB Continuum Schools in Dubai. The school is on a developmental journey, and this school has a significant number of new students, across the school, due to the strong reputation that the school has earned in the community. The school is always focused on inducting new students into the school culture, and the school has many new teachers in secondary, as the school is expanding rapidly. This school has an international student and staff population, including a significant percentage (approximately 30%) of Emirati students. This centers the school on the culture of the UAE while allowing an understanding of world cultures to blossom. SLT practices distributed leadership across the school, with middle leaders taking responsibility for their areas through their development plans.
This school is very inclusive of admissions and lessons. We use data effectively to plan for differentiation to ensure all students are challenged and supported appropriately. This support is through classroom differentiation, expert intervention from highly qualified SEN, EAL, counseling staff (as well as ILSAs and outside therapists), and a modified curriculum.
This school is committed to the National Agenda, reflected in school guiding statements (Vision, Mission, Values, and Strategic Objectives). The school is also committed to the IB and was authorized for the PYP, MYP, and DP last year. Our pastoral system is based on the ethos of the Learner Profile (linked to Islamic Values) and International Mindedness.
As a reflective teacher, the researcher has analyzed our internal and external results to identify areas of development for children each academic year. Each year the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai (KHDA) mandated us to conduct Externally Assessed Assessments in English, Mathematics, and Science for all the enrolled children in their Primary and Middle Years. The data collected each academic year that comes from data analysis is used as an indicator to effectively measure children’s learning skills, achievements, and overall progress in their academic years. This analyzed data clearly forms a basis that children’s performance and learning skills were a cause for concern. Many of the students do not know how to speak English at home although they practice it in school, and roughly 20% have a SEND passport. It was clear from students’ reports that in many households parental support is neglected in terms of enhancing their children’s learning ability whatsoever to help them with their home learning tasks based on the student voice survey.
Also, the school’s historical attendance data from events such as PTCs, coffee mornings, educational trips information sessions, DP options evening attendance record shows that approximately 35% – 40% of parents have managed to attend these meetings.
Hence, it is a priority to focus on how parental involvement stipulates provision for overall student achievement and helps students develop learning skills required at the secondary school stage. This not only helps students but also helps the researcher in their professional growth.
This research section reviews the related literature regarding the benefits of parental involvement, and areas in which parents should be actively involved to enhance their children’s overall academic development.
According to the UAE government, every citizen has the right to education. It provides free education in public schools and government higher educational institutions. According to the Federal Law No.11 of 1972, parents or legal guardians are obliged to send their children to school and show commitment to the UAE Ministry of Education guidelines.
The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA, 2013), which oversees all the schools in Dubai, has delved into several measures that can bolster parent-school relationships by making both parties sign a contract to improve parental involvement in children’s schooling. One of the essential aspects of this contract is to highlight the responsibility of parents towards the learning of their children. According to Berger (1987), parent’s involvement in their children’s learning should be outside the limitations of the PTCs or undertaking roles in various school activities. True involvement of the parents includes being an active part of the decision-making process each academic year and collaborating with the child’s teachers to understand the activities that can be done at home. This will enhance the academic achievement of their children each passing academic year. According to the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (2010), when both parents are involved it sets an effective tone and healthy circumstances upon which an individual child involves in education on his/her own, ultimately impacting his/her academic success in a positive way.
According to Patrikaku (2005), greater parental involvement in a child’s learning ability regardless of the financial status of the parent and child’s sex has been found to bring out a positive correlation with their learning and attainment levels. Also, it is noted in the study that parents’ education level is positively associated with a higher predisposition for them to be a more vigorous supporters of their child.
The socio-economic status and the changes in the family system have directly impacted the time and accessibility of parental involvement that parents have in their child’s school. Therefore, where both parents are working for longer hours, time will be a constraint and they will not be able to participate in activities such as coffee mornings, and information sessions during regular school working hours, including attending PTCs.
According to the Dubai School of Government policy brief 2012, if students are to enhance their true potential from education, they will need the full support of their parents. Some of the key elements that have been associated with improved academic achievements are outstanding pedagogical approaches, high-quality curricula, and highly qualified teaching staff.
However, these elements tell only half the story. Parental involvement has a major role to play in improving students’ achievements. Research has shown that parents should play an effective and impactful role not only in advancing their own child’s accomplishments but primarily should be a part of school improvement. Additionally, students with their parents involved in their schools’ activities for improvement of the institute tend to have better academic performance and fewer behavioral issues as compared to the children with no or less parental involvement. In Dubai, the level of parental involvement depends on factors such as the parents’ cultural background and the role of helpers and nannies.
Epstein’s Six Types Framework suggested by Al Sumaiti (2012) is an effective and helpful tool for defining and identifying parental involvement practices. This framework has six types of parental involvement. Type 1 involves “parenting” to help parents develop vital parenting skills so that they can effectively develop school-home “communication” which is the 2nd type of practice parents should consider for their involvement in a child’s overall academic success rate. Type 3 is titled “volunteering” to provide parents a potential pathway so that they can get involved in their children’s school activities for reinforcing their child in the home environment through the home-learning strategy which Al Sumaiti defines as “type 4:home-learning.” Moreover, types 5 and 6 involve “decision making” and “collaboration with the school community” respectively so that parents being an active part of the decision making and the collaborating process can fulfill their family needs as well as serve the school and community in a rightful way.
Burns (1995) states that culture is one of the possible barriers that have a direct influence on parental involvement in terms of enhancing their child’s learning abilities. For instance, the way parents involve in the UAE schools is entirely different from the way parental involvement is adopted in African countries, Turkey, and the USA.
Parental involvement in schools such as constructing the material for their own child is necessary to instill this rule in children’s minds that they are the building blocks of any learning environment. Furthermore, studies have found that some African schools considered parental involvement as necessary as students are to schools due to the limited academic resources available at the government schools. Therefore, the most popular method of involving themselves in school as well as in their own child’s improvement was attending PTCs, constructing toilets, painting the school building, etc. Mutasa et al.(2013) further shed light on the process that parents were involved in carrying construction materials such as Sand, Water, and Cement as well as molding bricks to build a school building. It is to strengthen the idea in children’s minds that not only their academic involvement but also co-curricular involvement can add to their learning ability, interpersonal skills, and school improvement among other competitor academic environments of their community.
According to Ngwenya and Pretorius (2014), in Zimbabwe, parents were involved in fundraising activities, purchasing uniforms for less fortunate people, and organizing after-school tutoring sessions. According to Tekin (2011), parental Involvement in academic environments of Turkey occurs in many forms such as attending PTCs, participating in fundraising activities, and supporting & monitoring their children’s work. According to Gunduz (2018), PTCs create a strong relationship between school and home, and these meetings help students improve their performance. Gunduz (2018) also highlights the importance of foundations that organizes events for parents to inform them of the importance of social development and prosperity.
According to Watson, Sander-Lawson, and McNeal (2012), parental involvement in the USA is poor, and this has been the apprehension for many years. However, according to Tekin (2011), this perception changed at the beginning of the 20th Century. Parents are now playing a very active role in their children’s learning by helping them complete homework on time and improving communication with various subject teachers or other matters of concern.
However, according to Hunstsinger and Jose (2009), migrant parents may not feel agreeable to being involved due to certain possible aspects that hinder their performance like language and their level of education, and lack of classroom practices.
Barriers to Parental Involvement
Culture, language, negative experiences from the past, and lack of confidence are barriers to parental involvement at school (Hornby and Laefeel, 2011). According to Von Otter (2014), parents who have low education levels lack the confidence to support their children with learning tasks at home environment meaningfully. This refers to the hindrance children face in their academic support that such parents are least helpful in assisting their children with potential capabilities to move forward in their educational journey. Another barrier that influences the involvement of the parents is the discrepancy between the culture of the teaching staff and the parents in case they have migrated from another country. (Burns, 1993) On the other hand, some parents have less desire to visit school due to their lifestyle. The family structure in the UAE culture has had an impact on the time of parental availability and involvement in school activities.
Parental Involvement and Student Motivation
According to Gonzalez-DeHass et al. (2005), parental involvement has an effective impact on the academic accomplishment and motivation of the child. However, research also suggests that different facets of parental involvement sometimes have opposite effects. These facets highly impact the different elements of student accomplishment level because of the parenting style their parents adopt. For instance, if parents do not take an active part in the decision-making process at their children’s school or do not contact their teachers regularly, the student will definitely feel not motivated to his/her regular school events. According to Izzo et al. (1999), it has been observed that students felt more engaged with their school activities and events when their parents participated more regularly in school tasks. On contrary, students with no or less involvement in schools activities described less engagement in their academic environment when parents contacted their children’s teachers or middle leaders more frequently.
Grolnick and Slowiaczek (1994) uncovered that not all facets of parental involvement predicted their children’s success and motivation. Similarly, Marchant et al. (2001) has made a valid point in their research that supports the fact that potential parental involvement at school as well as in the home environment is related to student motivation and overall achievement. His research also suggests further investigation of more relational aspects of parental involvement such as parents being a part of curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Gonzalez-DeHass et al. (2005) also reviewed that multiple ranges of facets regarding parental involvement practices on student learning ability should be investigated. The school environment can be turned into a community resource center to make parents get involved in school and their child’s improvement. In this center, parents can receive valuable guidance and information about the events, programs, and community resources available at their child’s school at the site. Showcasing parental involvement and talent at school can provide students with necessary information about their work which can positively impact students, their peers around them, and individuals in their immediate environment, too. Thus, there is a better chance to boost academic success and motivation on the part of the child when both parents are charged in the school environment to promote effective changes.
Methodology & Research Instruments
In this section, the methodology and techniques that were used in data collection are charted. To address the research question, a qualitative research method was used to gain preliminary information about the perception of parents regarding parental involvement. The reason why a qualitative research study is chosen for this research is based on McMillan and Schumacher’s (2010) insight that qualitative research is by all means rich in narrative description.
The researcher has used semi-structured interviews in a natural setting to get in-depth insight. This will provide the interviewer with the opportunity for inquisitive questions to develop and to get greater clarity on the topic. Roberts-Holmes (2014) further approved the point that open-ended questions enable the people being interviewed to express their views confidently and comfortably regarding a certain topic.
The data was collected from two parents, and their initials were used for confidentiality reasons. Both parents spoke Arabic as their home language, and both have obtained university education. Parents chosen in this study were those with children from secondary school, and they encompassed a mixture of middle and high socioeconomic status. The purpose of these interviews was to determine and identify the facet of involvement parents stipulate for their individual children, barriers to parental involvement, and the school’s role in providing indispensable resources to the children’s parents. This facet of parental involvement will impact students’ academic success among their peers. The purpose of these interviews is to measure how the school involves parents with students’ academic goals.
The main aim of this study was that interviews can examine participants’ background information, insights, or perceptions of a phenomenon. To achieve this objective, this research observed and examined parental involvement at a private international school in Dubai.
Based on the RQs, each interview consists of 12 questions in Appendix A that were written for parents. Parents were asked the same questions mentioned in the Appendix, but follow-up questions and discussions happened to get a clear understanding and clarity. According to Cresswell (2012), discussions can be collected from individual parents and can be used to raise further ‘what if’ questions by the researcher to fill the gaps.
The parental interviews were recorded using the application ‘Otter’ with the consent of the participants to ensure that all the conversation is captured. This has allowed the researcher an opportunity to replay the interview recordings to get a greater level of understanding if anything is missed during the interview session. Audio recordings were transcribed into a .txt file immediately after the meeting to ensure information was not lost.
The researcher transcribed the interviews and then read them repeatedly in order to have an apparent consideration of what the parents had said during the interview session. Audio recordings were repeated to make sure no information is missed. The researcher has decided to code the transcript using the deductive coding method. Categories were pre-defined such as individual participant’s interview, appendix including codebook, and the aim was to interpret parental views. (Cresswell, 2012) The codebook is included in Appendix B.
Findings of the Study
This section illustrates the relationship between parental involvement and student achievements. On the basis of the data gathered from the participants, findings concerning the picture of parental involvement and its benefits can be drawn as:
- Improvement in Parent-School Relationship
Both parents were very consistent in their beliefs that there is a strong correlation between parental involvement and student achievements. However, interviews reflected that the school needs to involve parents in the decision-making process.
- Organizational Structure to Promote Collaboration and Participation
According to Decker and Decker (2003), the aim of parental involvement is to construct shared ownership of parents and school for education, thus drawing an organizational structure that involves parents and creating a platform for parents to collaborate effectively with school SLT and participate in decision making. This will allow open communication between the entire stakeholder such as the school and the paternal body.
- Parental Involvement Practice to Excel Students’ Achievement level
Below is a detailed discussion of the major factor of this study in response to the research questions that were asked during the interview session. Both interview participants clearly stated that they helped their children with their homework and other school activities. One of the parents has mentioned how both parents are involved in helping their children with home learning tasks and preparing them for the assessments. This indicates that it is a common practice among parents to help their children with learning. One of the reasons could possibly be that the parents have attained a certain level of education that has improved their parenting and therefore they understand the importance of excelling their children at school.
Participants Responses and Discussion
Parent AN: “I believe if I support my child’s educational activities in the home environment by helping him with his activities assigned as his homework, following up on his assessments, then I can raise his academic attainment.”
Parent JA: “Like, in more ways than one, like, first of all, is following them up and seeing what they are doing and how they are doing and if they are struggling with any area or any specific subject we can support at home. It has been divided between my husband and me. So I have taken the languages and science parts and my husband’s handling the math part because he’s an engineer, so he can handle that part.”
The other element of parental involvement is attending Parent-Teacher Conferences and maintaining a high level of communication with their child’s teacher. The noticeable part was my participant generally attended each PTC to know more about their child’s education.
Parent AN: “My son is special educational needs. He has ADHD. Moreover, I have met the SEN teacher, and the communication I had in the PTC was very positive. They showed me what work they do with my son. And in a way, as a worrying mother, it felt good that there is a helping hand in school to support her.”
Parent JA: “We have parent-teacher evenings. So that’s the major one where we get information from the teacher about how our kids are doing, where they are struggling or what they are doing good and also emails, if we have anything we want to ask the teachers we send emails, they also send out newsletters where they tell us about anything that’s happening, right.”
This conversation with both the participants signifies how important is parental involvement in their child’s school activities to help him excel in his/her learning. It is also noted that both the participants have a certain level of educational achievements of their own which made it easy for them to understand their involvement could bear fruitful results for their child in his/her learning process.
Based on the research questions this study aimed to debunk, the study effectively explores that parental presence in school contributes to children’s academics. Besides, parental involvement practice works as a catalyst or a motivating factor for students if parents work with their children as great support from home. According to Guay et al.(2005), this will provide emotional support to the child. The findings of this needs analysis signify the need for further research in the existing context to explore more facets of parental involvement that constitute a child’s academic career in school as the related literature presented above advocates that parental involvement in a child’s regular school events is a crucial element in children’s academic success.
According to Duchense and Ratelle (2010), parents who demonstrate excess support had children who disclosed open communication, asked for help if needed, and established emotional closeness with their family. There are some limitations present in this study that should be addressed in further studies. This study is not ideal to assume that parental involvement automatically leads to outstanding academic achievement. Several other factors affect academic achievements, such as peer influence, self-esteem, the culture of the school, and previous experiences.
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