Barriers That Influence and Prevent Parental Involvement

Abstract

This review includes the analysis of the scope of literature available on parental involvement in the USA as well as worldwide. Studies on the matter lie in several domains including definition, theoretical framework, and barriers. Researchers identify several aspects of participation and tend to concentrate on such areas as assistance in skills acquisition, school events attendance and communication between educators and parents. From the theoretical perspective, the Theory of Planned Behavior is often applied to address parental engagement. The aspect of the issue receiving the most attention is barriers. Researchers have unveiled such barriers to parental involvement as ethnicity, the lack of resources (including time and financial background), the lack of skills and education as well as beliefs and perceptions.

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The issue has been in researchers’ lens for decades and is rather well-researched, but there are still various gaps. One of these gaps is the reliance on the qualitative research method and the lack of quantitative data that can be generalized. However, the reason for that is researchers’ interest in the opinions and ideas of people pertaining to particular communities. Another significant gap is concerned with the one-sided nature of the research as the parental perspective is mainly in focus. Educator’s views are often unvoiced, which undermines the process of the development of efficient strategies aimed at the improvement of parental involvement.

The Focus on Barriers

The analysis of the literature available on the matter shows that researchers tend to focus on particular aspects of the issue. Apart from theoretical frameworks development and the discussion of nature and the role of involvement in students’ performance, it is possible to identify some other recurrent themes. It is necessary to consider briefly the aspects studied in different countries with a focus on US education so that it could be possible to employ the available knowledge when considering a set of particular barriers as well as recommendations on the way to improve the situation.

Ethnicity: Language and Culture

The US society is highly diverse, and it is but natural that diversity affects the educational system as well as parental participation patterns. Researchers have explored the correlation between ethnicity and parental participation. It is regarded as one of the central barriers to parental involvement among minority groups. Cousins and Mickelson (2011) found that previous educational experiences, as well as actual negative attitudes of parents towards minorities, shape African American parents’ willingness to participate. Vera et al. (2012) studied various demographic factors contributing to the parental reluctance to participate and found that ethnicity was the most influential barrier. Ethnicity affects parents’ involvement in two major domains, language, and culture. As seen from the review, the lack of English skills prevents parents from helping their children with their school tasks. It also impairs the communication between the school staff and parents.

Hispanics are the second-largest minority group in the country and the size of this population is steadily increasing. Klugman, Lee and Nelson (2012) provide quantitative data on the way Hispanic parents’ participation correlates with the number of Hispanic students at a school as well as the quality of ties within the community. The researchers note that the number of Hispanic students positively correlates with parental participation while the role of the community is less vivid when it comes to US-born Hispanic children (Klugman et al., 2012). These data suggest that Hispanic people are less likely to take part in their children’s academic life as they want to avoid issues associated with prejudice and racism. Nonetheless, it is necessary to stress that Hispanic populations are eager to encourage their children to study and help them in their academic endeavors due to the cultural peculiarities of these groups (Parra Cardona et al., 2012). Due to their cultural peculiarities and the significant authority of parents, older generations tend to educate (in many respects) younger generations. One of the aspects of this education is encouragement to study better that is often facilitated by parental engagement in their children’s academic life.

Öztürk (2013) focuses on parents’ involvement in families of immigrants and stresses that there are two basic barriers to parents’ participation. One of the obstacles is the language as many parents find it difficult to communicate with teachers in English as the immigrants’ language skills are often very low. The other significant barrier is culture as educators often try to avoid communicating with parents due to the lack of knowledge about their cultures while many parents are reluctant to communicate with teachers due to their fears of negative outcomes for their children if they start speaking about problems. The researcher explores the effects of these barriers on parents’ engagement in primary school, which is traditionally associated with high level of involvement. This shows the extent to which ethnicity-associated issues repel parental engagement.

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It has been acknowledged that such minority groups as African Americans and Hispanics receive significant attention and this cohort is well-researched when it comes to parents’ participation in their children’s studies at all levels (elementary, secondary and high school). However, Asian people who constitute 5% of the population, especially new immigrants whose number is steadily increasing, are not in researchers’ focus (Paik, 2011). Paik (2011) stresses that these populations face language, cultural and economic obstacles preventing them from sufficient involvement in their children’s academic life. Although Asian people emphasize the need to obtain good education, parents often fail to help their children due to their inability to develop proper communication patterns with educators. In this study, the lack of language skills is the major barrier to the development of proper relationships with teachers, which negatively affects parental engagement and the overall performance of students.

The gaps in the domain of language and culture are especially apparent in special education. Tamzarian, Menzies and Ricci (2012) argue that minority groups (especially immigrant parents) who speak good English tend to be lost in various terms and diagnoses, which negatively affects their willingness to participate. More so, disability is seen differently in different cultures. For example, many parents regard their children’s behavior as typical while US educators may see it as a mild or significant disability (Tamzarian et al., 2012). This also leads to the development of serious barriers to parents’ engagement. These different perspectives make parents reluctant to communicate with educators who also fail to understand why exactly parents do not engage in their children’s academic life.

From the international perspective, it is also clear that ethnicity plays an important role in parents’ participation. Hebel (2014) states that ethnicity is a significant barrier in Israeli schools as Arab families feel a lack of support or even hostility when communicating with teachers and school administrators. These data suggest that cultural peculiarities have a considerable (often adverse) impact on parental involvement. The lack of language-related skills is one of the most influential barriers as parents simply fail to speak the same language with educators and participate in various school events and are unable to help their children with their homework. Cultural differences also contribute to minority groups’ disengagement as educators and parents may develop hostility towards each other. It is necessary to add that ethnicity mainly affects parents’ participation in school events and has quite a limited impact on their help with their children’s homework.

Income

Income is another influential factor shaping the extent of parents’ participation. Voyles (2012) studied perception of low-income families, and the researcher emphasizes that parents with low income developed the belief that the community and educators looked down on them, and that although they were invited, they were not welcome. These attitudes are characteristic features of many low-income families irrespective of their ethnicity. Apart from their perceptions, parents simply have no time as well as the desire to get involved. Mart, Dusenbury & Weissberg (2011) note that parents fail to change their work schedules to be more involved in their children’s academic life. Associated fatigue is another factor that contributes to parental disengagement as parents do not check homework or help their children with some challenging tasks.

It has been acknowledged that parents with low income often have a lower level of education. Rothstein (2014) stresses that communities and, as a result, schools are highly segregated in the USA, which leads to poor parental participation. The researcher argues that parents lack time and, more importantly, resources to help their children obtain high-quality educational services. Parents living in low-income communities are likely to have insufficient education, which creates a vicious circle. The availability or rather unavailability of proper educational services discourages parents from being involved in their children’s school life. Adults’ negative school experiences contribute to the development of a specific attitude, which discourages parents from participating in such important aspects as school events and communication with teachers.

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It is necessary to note that economic problems are often associated with ethnicity, but Caucasian families tend to be affected by such issues as well. Apart from having insufficient resources, such parents often feel teachers’ negative attitudes (Cooper-Baker & Martin, 2015). According to Cooper-Baker and Martin (2015), these populations often feel disempowered as they think they are losing control over their children’s academic performance as well as the educational system that becomes more minorities-oriented. The lack of resources also affects the quality of communication between the school and parents who may simply have no access to the Internet to check for invitations, important notifications, children’s grades and so on (Mart et al., 2011). Such parents cannot help their children with tasks that involve some technology due to the lack of resources.

The limited financial background is especially vivid in special education as parents often have no sufficient resources to ensure proper educational services as well as effective engagement in their children’s education. Bano, Anjum, Rahman, Sadia and Sarwar (2013) provide quantitative data that display this trend. The researchers also reveal the gap between parents and educators who accuse each other of insufficient attention and participation, although both groups understand that the lack of resources is one of the major factors preventing proper collaboration between educators and parents. Hourani, Stringer and Baker (2012) refer to this phenomenon as a ‘blame game’ and state that teachers and educators often fail to understand the roles the stakeholders should play. The research concentrates on some primary Emirati schools, which shows that the issue associated with ineffective communication is present in many countries across the globe.

Families’ income plays an important role in parental participation. Parents have to work long hours and cannot often adjust their schedules to school events. They have limited resources at home to be more integrated into their children’s academic life. Their financial constraints affect the way they perceive school as parents are reluctant to visit the educational establishment where they feel they are unwelcome. The absence from school events often leads to the development of a particular attitude of teachers who think that parents are simply disinterested in their children’s education. Many parents with low income believe that education is very important and parental involvement is beneficial. However, the lack of resources may impair parents’ ability to participate in school activities as well as their ability to help their children with their homework. It is possible to note that this barrier is also associated with poor communication between parents and educators.

Education and Particular Skills

As has been mentioned above, language is one of the barriers that negatively affect parental involvement. Derderian-Aghajanian and Cong (2012) claim that the lack of skills of Chinese immigrants affects the degree of their participation in the children’s school life and their children’s performance. The researchers stress that many Chinese parents do not speak English or have poor reading and writing skills, which discourages them from helping their child as well as properly communicating with the school personnel (Derderian-Aghajanian & Cong, 2012). The research in this sphere shows that Chinese parents with higher levels of education are active participants in their children’s academic lives than the representatives of the same ethnic group with lower or no sufficient educational background. These people feel they are unable to help and decide to alienate themselves.

The lack of certain skills is often common for Hispanic families as well. The detrimental effects of insufficient education or training are especially evident with Hispanic populations who are culturally ‘predisposed’ to involvement in their children’s academic life as they believe parents should encourage and help their children to perform well at school. McWayne, Melzi, Schick, Kennedy and Mundt (2013) researched parental engagement in preschool education with the focus being on Hispanic populations. The researchers stress that Hispanic parents are willing to participate in their children’s academic life if they have the necessary skills. These findings also provide insights into the changes in parental participation throughout their children’s school years. Parents feel more confident when they help complete primary school tasks, but they often appear to be unable to cope with tasks given to high school students.

African American and Hispanic parents, as well as Caucasians, who do not have difficulties associated with language skills still, cannot help their children with their homework (which is a part of parental involvement), which has been in researchers’ lens for a while. Bennett-Conroy (2012) argues that these populations may have difficulties in helping their children due to limited knowledge and skills. This involves parents’ backgrounds including socioeconomic and educational. Sanders (2011) stresses that high school education requires rather sophisticated knowledge in some disciplines and parents often feel unable to help their children cope with the tasks.

The lack of educational background and particular skills are some of the most influential barriers to proper parental engagement. However, this obstacle is mainly concerned with parents’ inability and reluctance to help their children who are at high school with their homework. In many cases, parents try to encourage their children to study well without providing actual assistance. This barrier only slightly affects parents’ participation in various school events. It also has little effect on the quality of the communication between parents and educators.

Beliefs and Perceptions

Apart from specific external factors, parents’ beliefs, perceptions, and motivations also play an important role in their participation. Murray et al. (2014) implemented qualitative research and found that African American parents with low income tend to believe they do not have enough skills to help their children with their studies. These people’s negative school experiences often associated with racism also contribute to the development of particular views and the decision-making process concerning their involvement. Murray et al. (2014) stress that parents’ perceptions of invitations contribute to their participation as parents often fail to respond to implicit and explicit invitations of their children (struggling over some tasks, asking to go to school or help with a task) and teachers (asking to come, placing poor marks).

As has been mentioned above, low-income families tend to alienate themselves due to their belief that school staff will look down on them. Voyles (2012) reports about this trend in low-income African American families. Williams and Sánchez (2013, p. 56) found that African American parents “reported feelings of isolation, alienation, disengagement… regarding interactions with personnel at their child’s school” and “voiced being treated like second-class citizens” at their children’s school. It is necessary to note that these beliefs are typical of low-income minorities. In other words, a set of factors contributes to the development of negative attitudes towards participation in children’s academic life. These factors are mainly related to ethnicity and income.

Bano et al. (2013) also unveil a significant adverse impact of such beliefs as teachers’ being uninterested and unsupportive. The researchers pay certain attention to teachers’ perspectives, which is not very common for the study of parental involvement. It is stressed that teachers believe that parents do not use all the options and expect too much from educators and the overall educational system. Teachers also tend to think that parents invest too little time in their children’s academic life as they, reportedly, do not check homework or notes from teachers. Trickett and Formoso (2011) note that teachers develop negative ideas about immigrant parents due to their rare visits (compared to Caucasian parents). However, the infrequent visits are not due to parents’ disengagement but due to many other reasons (workload is one of the primary reasons). More so, Trickett and Formoso (2011) emphasize that immigrants see better educational opportunities for their children as the basic reason for their immigration. The development of such beliefs suggests that more effort should be invested in the training of both parents and teachers on the diversity and cultural peculiarities of different ethnic groups.

Another belief that prevents parents from participating in their children’s academic experiences is concerned with the role of educators. Mudzielwana (2014) states that parents do not want to participate in their children’s studies due to their perception that it is the teacher’s role to teach and the school’s role to equip children with the necessary skills. Although the research unveils the trends existing in South Africa, there are similar beliefs in the USA as well. Hill (2011) reports about many cases when parents expect educators to take complete responsibility for their students’ development. Unruh and Murray (2015) claim that teachers are more likely to express negative attitudes towards parents’ engagement than parents who are less likely to think negatively about parents. This brings to the fore the need to provide training to teachers who should understand the needs of students and their parents better.

Particular perceptions and beliefs may have detrimental effects on parental involvement. It is necessary to note that these beliefs develop due to insufficient communication and training (of teachers as well as parents) and further contribute to the development of new negative perceptions. The so-called blame game is one of the products of such beliefs as parents and teachers expect the other part to be more engaged. It is also important to add that perceptions are associated with ethnicity and income. They are largely dependent on the quality of communication between educators and parents. Parent’s participation in school activities is mainly affected, but parents’ willingness to help their children with homework correlates with the development of negative beliefs.

Lack of Time

Irrespective of ethnicity, gender, age and income, many parents simply have little time to invest in their children’s academic life. Herman, Reinke, Frey and Shepard (2013) state that the lack of time is one of the common reasons for parents’ disengagement in their children’s school life. It is found that many parents would like to participate in school meetings but cannot adjust their schedules and cannot help their children with their tasks due to the lack of time (Herman et al., 2013). Kipping, Jago and Lawlor (2011) also claim that the lack of time is one of the primary factors preventing parents, who are eager to participate, from getting involved in particular activities. It is noteworthy that the researchers focused on the participation in a particular program aimed at the improvement of their children’s health and lifestyles that are associated with parents’ significant motivation.

As has been mentioned earlier, this barrier is not linked to ethnicity or income, it has little to do with beliefs and perceptions. The lack of time impairs communication between parents and educators, but it equally prevents parents from helping their children with their tasks. Parents who are willing to participate and consider it to be an important contribution to their children’s development mainly report about the lack of time as a barrier to their fuller engagement. Education is not one of the factors that determine the degree of this barrier influence as people with no education background as well as people with degrees often have to work long hours.

Insufficient Educators’ Effort

Apart from factors primarily associated with parents’ backgrounds and perceptions, educators’ effort is instrumental in developing proper communication between teachers and parents as well as parental involvement. Ghilay and Chilay (2015) stress that parents often avoid involvement in their children’s academic life as they feel that this participation is not welcome. Although the researchers focus on primary school students, the study provides valuable insights into the importance of proper educators’ efforts as parents of primary students are often more likely to participate in their children’s academic life. Teachers often fail to develop proper communication channels due to many reasons including insufficient training, poor motivation, the lack of skills especially when it comes to diversity.

Hebel (2014) found that parents of younger students displayed a higher degree of involvement compared to high school students. The researcher reports about a more significant parental participation when educators are more supportive. This support is mainly manifested in educators’ sufficient instructions, provision of all the necessary information as well as training. Although the research focuses on the schools of Israel, the data show similarities between the two countries in this respect. It is important to add that the study involves special education students where parental involvement is traditionally higher.

Another research carried out far from the USA also shows the benefits of proper programs aimed at improving parents’ engagement. Kibaara and Ndirangu (2014) utilized quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the outcomes of parental participation in several secondary schools in Kenya. The researchers found that parents take an active role in their children’s academic life but still think that this engagement can be more efficient if more training programs will be introduced for parents. European parents reveal skepticism concerning their engagement due to the lack of proper channels between the school and the parent (Ule, Živoder & Du Bois-Reymond, 2014). Nevertheless, parents understand that their involvement will be beneficial for the development of their children.

As far as the US educational system is concerned, administrative and sometimes bureaucratic domains place barriers to parental involvement. The educational system still involves practices based on Anglo-centric models that are inefficient when applied to ethnic minorities (Arias, 2015). The US educational system provides some programs aimed at the development of proper communication between educators and parents as well as improvement of parental involvement. Nevertheless, Tamzarian et al. (2012) state that the highly bureaucratic nature of the Individual Education Program discourages parents from participation in their children’s academic life although in the vast majority of cases parents consider this to be rather important and helpful for their children. It is necessary to add that parents get certain training aimed at their effective involvement in their children’s academic experiences. Parra Cardona et al. (2012) employed both quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate the effectiveness of culturally adapted parenting programs. According to the study results, the programs are efficient as parents became more willing to participate in their children’s academic life and communicate more effectively with educators.

Improper communication channels can be regarded as another serious obstacle as they often account for insufficient engagement of parents. Bennett-Conroy (2012) emphasizes that only a half the participants of their research reported receiving an invitation to school events while some parents noted that they got calls from teachers when the students displayed inappropriate behavior. The inability to adjust parents’ work schedules is often associated with late invitations that come from their children or teachers (orally or in written form). Another facet of inefficient communication and administrative effort is the reluctance to interfere with teaching practices due to the lack of knowledge of the US educational system. Vera et al. (2012) argue that being unfamiliar with the US educational system, parents choose to be less involved in their children’s academic lives. Immigrant parents are the most vulnerable group as they are often unaware of the peculiarities of the system, and educators are often reluctant due to the scarcity of time to provide detailed information on the matter (Trickett & Formoso, 2011). This shows the flaw in the administrative effort as educators do not provide all the necessary information concerning education in the USA as well as particular schools.

Ethnicity contributes greatly to the intensification of the inefficiency of administrative effort. Although there is evidence of effective use of culturally-adapted programs, a few similar programs and strategies are utilized. Schools do not invest more effort in creating more efficient communication patterns with students’ parents especially when it comes to minorities. This trend is sometimes associated with educators’ prejudice or lack of training on diversity. The inability of schools to engage parents in their children’s academic life is due to insufficient attention to this issue.

Categorization Difficulties

The barriers mentioned above are the most recurrent and placed into different categories. Nevertheless, it is necessary to add that categorization has been rather difficult as they are all interconnected. This means that researchers often paid attention to all the barriers within a single study. For instance, ethnicity is closely connected with such areas as cultural bias, the lack of education and skills as well as the lack of resources. The socioeconomic status of the family usually suggests the level of parents’ education as low-income families often have parents who do not have higher education. The administrative effort is also related to such issues as ethnicity and socioeconomic status of families as educators often fail to reach all the parents due to differences in communication patterns (reliance on technology) and the lack of knowledge on diversity.

Basic Categories Affected

Assistance in Acquisition of Skills

Although it is important to identify barriers to parental involvement, it is also possible to point out major areas affected by the obstacles mentioned above. Three main domains are the most vivid: assistance in the acquisition of certain skills (including helping to do homework), participation in school events and communication between parents and educators. The assistance in the acquisition of skills includes helping with homework, drilling and encouraging to search for more information or do extra tasks, and so on.

This domain is closely linked to such barriers as the lack of education and skills due to scarce resources and the low socio-economic status of the family. Researchers mirror the trend existing in low-income populations who do not have enough skills due to their insufficient educational background or the lack of resources (Cooper-Baker & Martin, 2015; Mart et al., 2011; Sanders, 2011). The lack of language-related skills also prevents parents from this kind of parental participation. This is especially true for Hispanic and Asian immigrants (Bennett-Conroy, 2012; McWayne et al., 2013; Derderian-Aghajanian & Cong, 2012). As has been mentioned above, parental participation within the domain of skills acquisition is not voluntary as the majority of studies show that parents are willing to help their children but do not have such a possibility due to several obstacles.

Participation in Activities

Another important aspect of parents’ involvement is their participation in school events. Researchers outline such barriers as the lack of time, improper administrative effort and socioeconomic status of parents. Kipping et al. (2011) stress that the lack of time is the major barrier for those who are eager to participate. Bennett-Conroy (2012) found that administrative flaws prevent parents from taking part in school activities as parents often receive no invitations or notifications. Trickett and Formoso (2011) reveal another barrier to the participation of parents who regard such participation as potentially beneficial for their children.

Negative attitudes and the lack of resources discourage parents from attending school events. The researchers unveiled the link between the ethnicity-related bias that prevents parents from participating in school activities. However, some parents do not think it is essential for their children and are too preoccupied with their low-income avoiding taking part in school events due to their socioeconomic status (Voyles, 2012; Williams & Sánchez, 2013). The research associated with the low frequency of parents’ participation in school activities involves significant attention to the quality of communication between parents and educators.

Communication

One of the most researched areas is the domain of communication (or rather ineffective communication) between educators and parents. All the studies reviewed paid certain attention to communication. The degree of interest and comprehensiveness of the investigation differ across the studies, which is due to the researcher’s focus. The researchers who put the central focus on the communication patterns often evaluate particular programs and methods used to encourage parental participation (Bennett-Conroy, 2012; Tamzarian et al., 2012). The existing research shows that communication between educators and parents can be inefficient due to parents’ lack of language skills (Paik, 2011). Mart et al. (2011) unveil socioeconomic barriers as parents often have no computers or Internet access to communicate with the school staff who often employ this kind of technology. The lack of knowledge concerning cultural peculiarities contributes to impaired communication (Trickett & Formoso, 2011; Klugman et al., 2012). However, the data on communication is still insufficient as parents’ expectations and educators’ perceptions often remain unvoiced.

Research Methods

The analysis of the available literature suggests that researchers concentrate on qualitative data when addressing barriers to parental involvement. Among 32 recent (published within five past years) studies on barriers to parental involvement, only nine sources are quantitative (or based on the mixed method), which is less than a third (28%). These figures show the focus on people’s opinions rather than generalized data concerning particular trends in the educational system. Researchers explore the stakeholders’ perceptions and beliefs when it comes to barriers to parental participation.

Quantitative studies mainly concentrate on the efficacy of specific programs. The majority of these studies mirror the overall interest in the role ethnicity plays in parents’ participation in the USA (Parra Cardona et al., 2012; Klugman et al., 2012; Lee et al., 2012; McWayne, 2013; Vera et al., 2012). Special education attracts certain attention, and researchers evaluate the perspectives of parents and educators (Bano et al., 2013). The rest of the studies included in this review reveal peculiarities of communication between parents and educators as well as its influence on parental involvement (Bennett-Conroy, 2012; Kibaara & Ndirangu, 2014). These studies shed some light on other issues related to parents’ participation including the influence of socioeconomic status of the family, cultural peculiarities, lack of time. However, the major emphasis is placed on ethnicity and communication.

The qualitative research is more comprehensive. Researchers employing this research method unveil such barriers as the lack of time, lack of education and skills, income-related issues, extensive bias and prejudice as well as the lack of communication and ethnicity-related issues. Communication between the stakeholders is also in the researchers’ lens. Researchers manage to investigate perspectives of particular populations. Thus, African Americans’ views on the matter reveal these people’s concerns about racism, their abilities to participate and the lack of resources, especially time (Hill, 2011; Cousins & Mickelson, 2011; Rothstein, 2014). Hispanics attract most attention of researchers, which can be explained by the increasing number of this group. Researchers mainly focus on language and cultural issues as well as the socioeconomic status of the families that are seen as major barriers (Klugman et al., 2012; Lee et al., 2012; McWayne, 2013). Asian immigrants also receive significant attention as the number of such people also increases at a considerable pace. Asians see the major barriers in language, the lack of resources and administrative support (Derderian-Aghajanian & Cong, 2012; Paik, 2011).

Nonetheless, there is a gap in the existing literature. Parents’ perceptions are central to the vast majority of studies while educators’ views are often unvoiced. Some researchers shed light on this aspect and reveal expectations and concerns of teachers and, quite rarely, administrators (Bennett-Conroy, 2012; Mart et al., 2011; Trickett & Formoso, 2011). The data are not sufficient as only some facets of the issue have been mirrored in the literature. Moreover, researchers have invested insufficient effort in the evaluation of the difference between parents’ and teachers’ perspectives.

Major Gaps

The review of the available literature suggests that parental involvement has been a topic of extensive research for decades. Researchers have explored many aspects of the issue, but there are still various gaps. For instance, the definition of parental involvement has not been updated although this adjustment to modernity is crucial since the way educational services are provided has changed significantly during the past decade. The definition should embrace all the aspects of the issue including such domains as communication, assistance in knowledge and skills acquisition as well as participation in school activities. This definition will enable educators and parents to develop proper communication channels and avoid any disagreement or controversy as the stakeholders will have similar expectations. The understanding of the nature of parental engagement will help the stakeholders define the roles of people involved, which will beneficially affect students’ performance.

The bulk of literature on the role of parental involvement is rather significant. It has been acknowledged that it positively affects students’ academic performance and achievements. However, the stakeholders’ ideas on the matter are hardly voiced. The majority of teachers and parents understand the value of parental participation, but there is a gap concerning the role of each aspect of this involvement. Researchers do not pay enough attention to identifying the stakeholders’ perspectives on the role of particular components such as participation in school events, communication, help in skills acquisition. This leads to incomplete engagement of parents who may attend all school activities but ignore their children’s need for help with homework. Some educators tend to focus on communication while others simply stress the value of parental assistance in doing homework. When the roles are properly defined and articulated, the next step will be the development of methods to inform the stakeholders about the benefits (and disadvantages if any) of their involvement.

Another area well-researched is concerned with barriers to effective parental involvement. Researchers have identified and explored such obstacles as ethnicity, the lack of resources (time, money), the lack of education and skills, particular perceptions of the stakeholders (usually associated with their socioeconomic status and ethnicity), and the lack of administrative effort. Furthermore, the vast majority of studies focus on particular barriers and pay little attention to their impact on each of the aspects of parental involvement. Parents’ perspectives are mainly under consideration while teachers’ ideas may provide valuable insights into the problem. Educators (teachers, administrators and so on) should share their ideas on the matter as it will help in the development of efficient strategies and programs that will be welcome by all the stakeholders. The lack of administrative support (voiced by parents and educators) is one of the most detrimental barriers. The change of the focus on parents’ ideas may be beneficial for the entire system as educators will be more motivated to take part in various programs aimed at the improvement of parental participation.

Another significant gap in the literature on the matter is the lack of recommendations, and specific methods practitioners may employ. The vast majority of studies include some recommendations while others evaluate the effectiveness of some programs. Nonetheless, there is insufficient precision in this area. Researchers should come up with the theoretical framework as well as particular programs to encourage parental participation. Ways to break barriers should be the focus of the extensive research. The stakeholders’ views will be instrumental in this process. Communication should be a primary concern as it is the bridge that connects the stakeholders. The utilization of technology should receive considerable attention as it is vivid that parents and teachers see this use differently.

Finally, the analysis of the literature shows that data can hardly be applicable in all settings as they cannot be generalized due to the limitations of the qualitative analysis (mainly used). Researchers choose qualitative methods as the issue needs the analysis of people’s perceptions. However, quantitative methods are also necessary as they can be utilized to identify the effectiveness of programs. Available quantitative data are far from being enough to develop an effective strategy for a particular educational establishment. Although researchers have evaluated some programs aimed at encouraging parents to participate more actively, these findings are often based on qualitative research methods. There is a need to collect quantitative data especially when it comes to the evaluation of strategies and programs. Nevertheless, qualitative research methods cannot be abandoned as they can help reveal relevant trends in particular settings. All states, districts, and even educational establishments are very different due to demographics or other factors. When developing strategies aimed at encouraging parents to get involved, stakeholders’ ideas and perceptions are of paramount importance.

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Barriers That Influence and Prevent Parental Involvement
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