CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the study
When schools, families, and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer, and like school more. Parental involvement over the past decade, indicates that regardless of family income or background, “students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, enroll in higher-level programs, be promoted, pass their classes, earn credits, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, adapt well to school and graduate to postsecondary education” (Henderson & Map, 2002: 67).
In the United States, data from the 2000 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed that, nationally, 90 percent of 4th graders were in schools where a school official reported that more than half of parents participated in parent-teacher conferences. Among 8th graders, though, that proportion dropped to 57 percent. A report from the U.S. department of educational cites several reasons for the decline in involvement as pre-school children grow older. Parents of middle students often report feelings that children should do homework alone, and that the parents shouldn’t try to help if they’re not experts in the subject. The structure of many schools can also deter parents from helping students. Organizing a nursery school so that at least one person knows each child well, keeping a “parent room” in the building, and sponsoring parent-to-parent communication and events are key parts of an effective parent-involvement program (Berla, Henderson, & Kerensky, 1989). According to the National Network of Partnership Schools (NNPS), for parent involvement to flourish, it must be meaningfully integrated into a school’s programs and community. The network developed a framework of six types of parental involvement that schools can use to guide their efforts.
NNPS says schools can; help families with parenting and child-rearing skills, communicate with families about school programs and student progress and needs, work to improve recruitment, training, and schedules to
involve families as volunteers in school activities, encourage families to be involved in learning activities at home, include parents as participants in important school decisions and coordinate with businesses and agencies to provide resources and services for families, students, and the community (Epstein, 2001).
Parental participation in pre-school activities includes a wide range of behaviors but generally refers to parents’ and family members’ use and investment of resources in their children’s schooling. These investments can take place in or outside of school, with the intention of improving children’s learning. Parental involvement at home can include activities such as discussions about school, helping with homework, and reading with children. Involvement at school may include parents volunteering in the classroom, attending workshops, or attending school plays and sporting events (Rain and William, 2011).
A parent is the child’s first and most important teacher in life and he or she is expected to play an active role in the child’s preschool journey because it is believed a parent and child should grow together and have a rewarding preschool experience. This follows subsequently by school life where academic performance is expected to be high. The parent is supposed to be supportive to the child in all aspects which include socially, physically, mentally and also emotionally (Epstein, 2001). Studies have indicated that children whose parents and/or other significant adults share in their formal education tend to do better in school. Some benefits that have been identified that measure parental involvement in education include; higher grades and test scores, long term academic achievement, positive attitudes and behaviors and more successful programs (Epstein, 2001).
The ideology of “motherhood” portrays mothers as being the ultimate caregivers. They invest most if not all of their time on their children which sometimes affects their job and role in the labor market. Although “stays at home moms” are less common, women are seen as spending more time with children than men. They are commonly the nurturers of the children and support emotional growth and stability. Fathers now more than ever are spending more time with their children. Whereas in the past, fathers were the breadwinners and the mothers stayed at home to cook, clean and take care of children. The roles are starting to reverse. Fathers are
participating more in parenting roles and taking on responsibilities such as bathing, dressing, feeding, changing
diapers and comforting children (Rain and William, 2011). In the morning, the first thing before the child report to school, he or she has to take breakfast, which gives him or her energy to stay in class comfortably. The child needs to take another snack at ten o’clock since energy is highly required. At lunch time the child is expected to take a well balanced diet. At 3 or 4 o’clock the child need to have a bite again for example a snack can be provided. When the child is comfortable and not hungry he/ she can listen to the teacher well and follow the instructions hence performs well when given an examination.
The other requirement the child needs is playing materials. Parent must provide some of demonstration and instructional materials. These materials are important because they help the child to be able to play, assist in concept building, promotion of discovery and creativity and enhance interaction with others as they play. These playing materials include the balls, track suits, toys, Picture books, clay ,paints, blackboard, beads,, large blocks, medium blocks, dishes, flower title, concentric figures, nest of eggs, nest of dolls, nest of rings, nest of trays, cars, puzzles, pyramid, wooden animals, balls, pull toys, cars, trains, trucks, wagon, seesaw and slides (Frost, Wortham & Reifel, 2008). Research clearly demonstrates that there is a direct relationship between parent engagement and children’s language and reading skills, ability to relate to and interact with others, they may be peers or adults, and their feelings of positive self-image (Berla, Henderson & Kerewsky, 1989)
1.2 Statement of the problem
Parents of preschool children are often faced with unique challenges that hinder them from meeting the learners’ needs. They include; insufficient time, career or job type, level of education, order of priority, set home environment, opinion to voluntary work at school, time taken to respond to school activities for example buying instruction materials, attending parents meetings, conferences, sports ,academic clinic day, disciplinary cases and also discussing the academic progress of the child. If the above needs are not attended to, there is a likelihood of child not performing well because he or she is not adequately supported. Insufficient parental involvement may lead to poor performance of the child academically (K.N.E.C Report, 2006).
Parents from private primary schools have been found to be more involved than parents from public primary schools in areas such as attending academic clinic day, parents meetings, paying motivation fees, buying reading materials and buying television, radios, computer for computer games while in public primary schools this is taken as extra expenses. The parents from public schools tend to be reluctant and therefore, the preschool children are not exposed to varied earning opportunities. This affects their acquisition of learning skills such as numeracy and literacy skills as compared to children from private preschools. Underachievement at school or failure to reach a satisfactory level of literacy and numeracy is a national problem and its caused by various factors such as poor parental involvement as reported by research done by Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC, 2009) on learners’ achievement. Reading, counting, grouping, pairing, sorting, comparing, matching, writing, designing, speaking and listening are among the skills inadequately acquired at early childhood education level. This is a common problem found in the results examined by Kangeta divisional evaluation tests results analysis. A difference in performance has also been noted between the public and private schools in the same area whereby public school record a lower mean grade compared to private schools. Academic performance in Kangeta division has remained very low for a very long time as compared to other educational divisions in the district (Igembe south district evaluation tests results analysis, 2010; 2011). The study therefore sought to establish the influence of parental involvement in the academic performance of preschool children in the division.