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The Impact of Parent Education Programs on Latino Families

NSF Award:

PostDoctoral Research Fellowship  (Nguyen Jacqueline)

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Interviews and surveys with Mexican American mothers reveal that they are highly engaged in their children's literacy development and school readiness, both before and after their children participated in a national home visiting program. However, decreases in parental feelings of confidence over time could result in potential problems with behavior-focused approaches used by parent education (PE) programs.

These findings resulted from a study to define culturally appropriate kindergarten readiness programs that help immigrant parents and children break through socioeconomic and cultural barriers. The research, led by an NSF postdoctoral fellow, contributes to the understanding of the impact of PE programs on Latino parent involvement in early childhood development.

After parents participated in a home visiting PE program for a year, researchers found gains in parent engagement in academic activities. However, participants felt uncertain about their roles as parents when programs focused solely on parenting behaviors and did not address how the academic engagement activities fit into existing cultural beliefs about parental roles.

Numerous PE programs exist to ensure that U.S. Latino children are ready for school. Programs often give parents tools to promote positive academic outcomes yet do not fit them into culturally informed ideas about children's development. For instance, many Latino parents feel children must develop a moral foundation before going to school. Programs focused solely on behavioral changes contribute to parental concerns about missing this window of opportunity or undermine parents' confidence that they know what is best for their child. The research suggests that PE programming curricula better accommodate cultural beliefs.

This study has contributed to the development of program evaluation tools for the sole existing service provider to Latino families in a southeastern Pennsylvania county. These evaluation tools will help the family center support children and parents in the transition to school.

Images (1 of )

  • pre-kindergartners visit a school bus
  • young girl reads with a parent educator
  • young girls share their written work
Pre-kindergartners prepare to visit a school bus.
Kennett Square Family Center
Reading with a parent educator.
Kennett Square Family Center
Sharing written work.
Kennett Square Family Center

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