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Family and Consumer Sciences

College of Agriculture, Life Sciences and Natural Resources

LIFE - Children, Youth and Families at risk

Research Review

Increasing Parental Involvement in Elementary School: The Nitty-Gritty of One Successful Program

Galen, Harlene. (1991). Increasing Parental Involvement in Elementary School: The Nitty-Gritty of One Successful Program. Young Children, 42 (2), 18-23.

PURPOSE: Researched parental involvement in elementary school, and developed an eight-step procedure for expansion of parental involvement.

Literature Review

  • Elam (1989) found that the exodus of elementary teachers from the field today is due to practitioners’ reactions to the lack of respect and worth given to them by society as well as to their concern about remuneration. The author believes that increasing parental participation in the elementary school has the potential for modifying the public’s value of educators.
  • Greenburg (1989) researched the cause-effect relationship between student achievement and parental participation.
  • Henderson (1981, 1987) summarized 53 studies that support positive results including gains in pupils’ performance from parental inclusion.


  • The principal and other district administrators analyzed the school’s needs.
  • A committee of teachers, concerned PTA parents and the principal identified which of the needs might be addressed by parent/staff collaboration.
  • A gradual increase of parental involvement was outlined that maximized parents’ inclusion in teaching/learning activities that would also benefit parents personally.
  • The committee ascertained what training was needed for both parents and teachers to make the partnership successful.
  • An effort was made to advertise the benefits of parental involvement to parents, children and staff.
  • Ideas for increasing involvement of parents unable to come to the school were generated through brainstorming by the committee.
  • Ways to consistently reinforce appreciation by the principal to the staff and parents and by the teachers to parents were discussed.
  • A decision was reached to make evaluation of the program by both parents and faculty an ongoing activity.

Results / Conclusions

  • The number of involved parents increased gradually: during the last four years; 130 to 180 parents assisted the school in some way.
  • The 1988-89 and 1989-90 school years had more fathers in the classroom than in any previous year.
  • Traditionally a higher concentration of parent assisted in the kindergarten, first, second, and third grades, but since 1987 every class in Magowan School had the advantage of some form of parental involvement.
  • Even the district’s middle school has seen an expansion of parental participation the last two years.

Developed by Rose Foster for UW honors course HP4152, Spring 1999

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