What Makes Head Start Parents Involved in Head Start?

In 2010 I conducted a study on Head Start parents in order to see why they were or weren’t involved in the Head Start classrooms or at Head Start parent group meetings.

I randomly chose 4 Head Start preschools and handed out a Parent Involvement Questionnaire (and also had the questionnaire inSpanish) to the parents as they dropped off their children. Over a week period, I managed to collect 239 questionnaires from parents (they appreciated that the questionnaire only took about 5 minutes to complete, since they are often rushing to drop their child off and head to work in the mornings). Click Here to see the PowerPoint that was presented at the National Head Start Association Conference in 2010.

Most of the parent’s filling out the survey were mothers, and about 50% were African American, 25% White and 22% Hispanic. Most parents were between 26-30 or 31 and over. Parents were likely to visit the classrooms and to receive fliers from teachers on upcoming parent involvement activities, like parent school days and parent group meetings. Parents also admitted that the teachers did encourage them to come into the classroom.

Parents however expressed barriers to participating in the classroom at Head Start such as having a busy schedule and work/school conflicts. Parents stated that they would be more likely to participate in the classroom if they were instructed what to do when in the classroom, if they could complete a project that they were knowledgeable about, and if teachers encouraged and praised parents often about their participation.

Parents stated that they would be more likely to attend parent group meetings at Head Start if the parent group meetings met on different days and times, if their children presented their work (i.e. art projects, singing, ‘prom’ nights).

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