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Voices from Home: How Diverse Families Support Children's Learning in Similar Ways.

Esler, Amy, Yvonne Godber, and Sandra L. Christenson.

Family involvement in children's learning is an important means for improving student success in school. However, educators often report difficulty involving families from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The Keeping Involvement Diverse in Schools (KIDS) Project sought to understand the various ways families from diverse backgrounds support children's education by helping their children learn at home. Over 100 African-American, Native-American, and European-American families whose children attend Minneapolis Public Schools were asked about their schools' roles in supporting and involving families, and about how they as parents helped support their children's learning using six critical learning practices (standards and expectations, structure, opportunities to learn, support, climate/relationships, and modeling). Across all ethnic groups, the authors found that similar themes emerged regarding what schools do well in supporting and involving parents, and what they could do better. Likewise, for all six critical learning areas, parents from all ethnic backgrounds expressed a high degree of similarity in the activities and practices they used to promote their children's learning, as well as the frequency with which they used them. Based on their findings, the authors offer the following conclusions: (1) families do many different things at home to support their children's learning, suggesting that research on parent involvement may overemphasize parent involvement at school to the exclusion of home support for learning; (2) ethnically diverse parents show a high degree of similarity in how they support children's learning, suggesting that school efforts to support involvement should focus on the needs of individual families, rather than following a tailor-made approach based on a family's ethnicity; and (3) schools can enhance home support for learning by following through on parents' recommendations for improving communication between home and school.

CURA Reporter
Publication date: 
Minneapolis: Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota.
Supported by an Interactive Research Grant from CURA and the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Minnesota.
31 (1): 9-15
Online availability
Download from CURA: 
CURA call number: 
Reporter 31 (1)

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