Imam Dr Zijad’s Corner: Obstacles to Parental Involvement in Kids Education (from the study of Joyce Epstein)

Obstacles to Parental Involvement in Kids Education (from the study of Joyce Epstein)

When asked “Do you think that you could help in the school more than you do now? In what way? And what prevents you from doing more to help your children learn?” Participants identified some of the obstacles to parental involvement that are similar to those described by parents in other studies. These obstacles include:

a) Logistical Obstacles: All parents agreed that time is a major factor for not being involved in their children’s education. All of them mentioned that they are too busy with work or work-related concerns, that they have other family commitments such as younger children or elderly parents.

b) Structural Obstacles: When parents were asked about some of the obstacles that prevent them from being more involved in the school, majority mentioned the school’s timetable, school hours, and lack of advance notices.

c) Attitudinal Obstacles: Overall, parents’ perception of the school environment was positive. When asked whether they feel welcomed as parents in their children’s classrooms/school and what causes them to feel that way?  Three participants responded that the reasons were: poor communication, defensive support staff, and the uncooperative principal. One of the participants mentioned his personal experience of school and complexity of curriculum.

d) Obstacles imposed by children: Three parents who have children at High school mentioned that when they want to visit the school their children discourage them stating that they feel embarrassed.

e) Cultural and Language obstacles:

Some parents, who are new immigrants to Canada, mentioned that they are involved, but they feel that it is not enough due to their insufficient education and language problems. Language is an obvious obstacle for parents who do not speak English or Arabic since both languages are crucial for the other subjects, be they in the academic area or the Core program involving three subjects: Islamic (religious studies), the Qur’an, and Arabic as a second language. One mother said that she cannot communicate with teachers because of the English language and that she cannot always bring an interpreter of her mother language with her.

The study, in general, provides evidence that parental involvement in children’s education has an overall positive effect both at home and in the school.

The meaningfulness of parental involvement indicates a set of different responses for each parent interview and is in agreement with prior research on this topic.

The study, however, appeared to show certain deviations in perceptions, thoughts, and attitudes of the parents probably due to socioeconomic factors and how each parent understood the meaningfulness of their involvement.

The teachers and children may get similar benefits due to parental involvement although these two parameters were not investigated in detail.

Certain obstacles prevented parents from participation in their children’s education. These were mainly due to language barriers, poor communication from the school, little or no familiarity with the school curriculum and parents’ own fear of jeopardizing their children’s education by interference.

Although the research was conducted in a Muslim school, the generality of the results in the foregoing research is to be interpreted with caution due to limited sample size.