BARRIERS TO PARENTS’ INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR CHILDREN’S SECONDARY EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF BRAESIDE HIGH SCHOOL, NAIROBI, KENYA

BARRIERS TO PARENTS’ INVOLVEMENT IN THEIR CHILDREN’S SECONDARY EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF BRAESIDE HIGH SCHOOL, NAIROBI, KENYA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0 Introduction

The study was initiated to investigate barriers to parents’ involvement in their children’s secondary education. Chapter one, therefore begins with a brief background to the problem; states the objectives to be achieved and also outlines the purpose and significance of the study. Guiding research questions, scope and limitations of the study have also been outlined in this chapter. The chapter further provides a conceptual Model of Parents’ Involvement upon which the study was guided. Operational definitions which were used in this study have also been outlined in this chapter. Chapter one has also provided an outline of the organization of the entire proposed study by giving a brief outline of each chapter. Finally, the chapter concludes by a summary of the whole chapter.

1.1         Background to the problem

Since 1960s, the topic on parents’ involvement in their children’s education has received increased attention in educational literature. There is a wide range of definitions and explanations of the concept “parents’ involvement”. Due to the nature of the study, the operational definition of parents’ involvement used in the study was adapted from Hoover- Dempsey and Sandler (1997. Hoover-Dempsy and Sandler (1997) defined parents’ involvement as broadly to include parents’ involvement in school home-based activities (e.g., helping with homework, discussing school events and/or courses) and school-based activities (e.g. volunteering to assist in school activities such as assisting in class work and/ or attending school events).

Parents’ involvement in their children’s education has received a lot of commendation from researchers mainly because of the positive and influential impact it has had on children’s education (Comer, 1986). Over the last 30 years, there has been a significant body of research that indicates that parents’ involvement in their children’s education has a positive impact on

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student outcomes. For example, research indicates that parents are their children’s first and most influential teachers, and as such, their involvement in children’s education, help them (children) learn effectively (Janice and Janice, 2002). Research has also shown that middle and high school learners achieve better grades and achievement scores when their parents take a keen interest in what they do including supervising homework and study (Van Voorhuis, 2003). Hoover-Dampsey et.al, (2001) also reported that parents’ involvement is related to learner achievement and personal attributes conducive to achievements such as self- regulation and perceptions of academic competence. Further, research indicates that when parents are involved in their children’s education, in particular, secondary education, children feel a sense of accompaniment and support. They also attend school more consistently and they always succeed because parents show an interest and provide them with enough attention they need (Weaver, 2005; Deslandes et.al, 1999; Simon, 2001). In another study, Onikama et.al (1998) indicated that parents’ involvement increased the amount of time adolescents devote to homework and finally contributed to successful placement of most students in higher ability mathematics groups. Finally, Blendinger and Jones, (1992), found out that children from families in which family relations are good and in which parents monitor closely the activities and whereabouts of their children, the children are less likely drop out of school than other children from families who seldom monitor their behaviour and academic work. All the research findings hold the truth about the benefits of parents’ involvement in their children’s education and therefore suggest that parents play a crucial role in their children’s education, both in the home and at school regardless of the age of the child(ren) and the level of education (Simon, 2001).

Despite all the evidence- based research findings of benefits of parents’ involvement in their children’s education, parents’ involvement seem to decrease as the children progress from primary to secondary school as evidenced by research findings. For example, a study conducted by Pryor in 1995, revealed that parents’ involvement in their children’s education fell up to 50% when children were 16 years or older, as compared to 73% when children were 8-11 years. Sower, et.al, (1980), found that parents’ involvement in their children’s education among Hispanic community decreased sharply from 82% when the children were attending elementary education to 24% when the children had reached grade 12 and 13. Hoover- Dempsey and

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Sandler (1997) also documented some evidence of decreased parents’ involvement as children progressed from primary to secondary school. These research findings implied that while most educators are optimistic that parents can successfully be involved in pre- school and primary school programs, many educators have been pessimistic about the prospects of successfully involving parents in their children’s secondary education (Pryor, 1995). The decreased parents’ involvement in their children’s secondary education is one of the most top problems facing educators today (Van De Grift and Green, 1992; Pryor, 1995). Unfortunately, the reasons for the decrease are neither clear nor well documented. This problem has led to many researchers to begin examining the barriers to parents’ involvement in their children’ secondary education. This study, was therefore, initiated to investigate what exactly restrains parents from being actively involved in their children’s secondary education.

1.2         Problem statement

Parents’ involvement in their children’s education and in particular secondary education is a worthwhile undertaking and has received a lot of commendation from researchers mainly because of the positive and influential impact it has had on their children’s education. Research shows that middle and high school learners achieve better grades and high achievement scores when their parents take a keen interest in what they do including supervising homework and study time. Research also indicated that parents’ involvement is related to adolescent academic achievement and personal attributes conducive to achievements such as self- regulation and perceptions of academic competence and reduced dropout rates (Hoover-Dempsy and Sandler, (1997).

In addition to the above benefits of parents’ involvement in their children’s secondary education, most policy makers and educators endorse the need for continued and active parents’ involvement throughout their children’s secondary education for a number of reasons. First, secondary education is the most fascinating stage of education with most secondary school students filled with many physical, cognitive, social and emotional changes. Secondly, at

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secondary school level, there are increased academic demands and complexity of the school structure which make the task of academic success for most adolescents even more difficult. Thirdly, secondary education occupies a very unique stage in most educational systems because it is the stage of education that determines the academic and professional career of students. In all these, secondary school students (mostly adolescents) always rely on their parents for advice, career guidance, support and encouragement. Finally, international schools, of which Braeside High School is one of them, require that parents be involved actively in their children’s education regardless of age of child (ren) and level of education.

Regrettably, parents’ involvement in their children’s education has not become a widely accepted practice in many secondary schools (Stallworth, 2004). Like other se condary schools, parents’ involvement in Braeside High School seems to decline as children progress from elementary to secondary school level. Most parents find it difficult to get involved in their children’s secondary education, especially visiting the school, yet they find it easier to assist their children with the ordinary every day home-based school activities such as checking homework or assisting them in other academic problems. Considering the benefits of parents’ involvement in their children’s secondary education as commended by researchers; the need for continued active involvement as endorsed by most policy makers and educators; and as a requirement for international schools that parents be actively involved in their children’s education, one would expect more parents being actively involved in their children’s secondary education. Why then, are parents not actively involved in their children’s education at secondary school level; what exactly holdback parents, from actively being involved in their children’s secondary education? It was based on this problem that the study was initiated to investigate the barriers to parents’ involvement in their children’s secondary education.

1.3         Purpose of the study

The general purpose of the study was to investigate barriers to parents’ involvement in their children’s secondary education, in particular in Braeside High School, Nairobi, Kenya.

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