14 SES 04 A, Parental and Grandparents Involvement for Students' Postive Behaviour and Wellbeing
Many decades of research have demonstrated that parental influence is significant for the development of positive social and academic behaviours in children (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Christenson & Hurley, 1997; Henderson & Mapp, 2002). When a child begins school the responsibility for the social and academic welfare of that child shifts to include the teacher. In the classroom, where a child’s behaviour is continually disruptive the teacher may experience significant stress. In Australian schools, Clunies-Ross, Little & Kienhuis (2008) consider teacher stress and burnout a major concern. Parents of children with difficult behaviour also struggle, often with limited knowledge of how to manage it effectively (Brotman et al., 2011). A large body of research links poor academic performance and disruptive student behaviour to delinquency, drug use, criminal activity and incarceration (Bidell & Deacon, 2010; Pas, Bradshaw, Hershfeldt & Leaf, 2010). Therefore, connecting parents and teachers, two powerful influences in a child’s life, to positive interventions and support to produce more favourable life outcomes would be beneficial to the individual and for the social capital of the country.
With difficult behaviour negatively impacting on the social, learning and life outcomes of students, the New South Wales Department of Education (DoE) investigated the Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) framework from the United States (Lewis & Sugai, 1999) to support a positive approach to changing behaviour. In Australia in 2005 the framework was renamed Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) and rolled out initially to 51DoE schools in the geographical region of Western Sydney with the number continually rising. New South Wales legislation and Department of Education policies recognise that parent involvement is instrumental to successful student outcomes (NSW Education Act, 1990; NSW DET, 1996, 2006(a)). Therefore, securing parental involvement in the Positive Behaviour for Learning initiative could only strengthen successful life pathways for children.
In Australia, and internationally, parent involvement in school has received abundant attention (Brock & Edmunds, 2010; Daniel, Wang, & Berthelsen, 2016; Wong, 2012), however this study is the first to investigate parent involvement in PBL. The main aim of the study was to understand how teachers and parents perceive parent involvement in PBL implementation and in school more widely. This research drew on collaboration and stakeholder theory (Janssens & Seynaeve, 2000) which was instrumental to understanding the approach schools take to parental involvement. While Australian schools accept the mandate of a shared responsibility with parents for the education of their children, tradition and tokenism (Woodrow, Somerville, Naidoo & Power, 2016) often set the agenda for parent involvement. This research found these elements present in both the schools. Assumption was the main guiding factor schools used to validate their methods to involve parents in PBL and in school more generally. The time has come for a different approach to involving parents in school, based on contextual evidence which includes the perspectives of the stakeholders.
A qualitative method was chosen for the study as such methods reveal deep understandings of people’s experiences relevant to their context (Yin, 2016). This qualitative study investigated the involvement of parents in PBL in two DoE primary schools in South Western Sydney, Australia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the Principal, teachers, parents and students from each school. This semi-structured questioning technique affords opportunity for elaboration on critical points. Open-ended questions also prompted more detailed responses giving the researcher a clearer understanding of the perspectives being put forward. All participation was voluntary with all teacher participants and some parents being interviewed individually with all student participants and some parents being interviewed in focus groups. School artefacts were also analysed and cross-referenced with information from the interviews to substantiate themes drawn from the data. Each interview transcript and artefact were examined for emerging themes related to the research questions followed by a reductive process which produced main categories and sub-categories. The data was then interpreted, findings made and conclusions drawn to answer the research questions. The qualitative approach used in this study produced some interesting findings, the most notable being that while teachers believed parents were involved in the PBL implementation process, parents stated an opposite view. Barriers to and enablers of parent involvement were uncovered in the schools and compared to the literature. The research process led the researcher to explore models of parent involvement and reference elements within these to the enablers suggested by the teacher and parent participants. This ongoing examination of the data and the literature projected this study from an investigative phase to a creative phase.
As this is the first study of its kind in Australia the findings were uniquely positioned to examine parent involvement from these fresh perspectives. Through the examination of the qualitative data and the literature, this study resulted in the development of a new way of understanding parent involvement in schools. The findings from this unprecedented study contributed to the development of a model to improve parent involvement in schools generally, leading to involvement in PBL. A model for Schools To Improve Parent Involvement (STIPI) emerged from synthesising the literature and the teacher and parent perspectives of parent involvement in two South Western Sydney schools. The STIPI model followed a similar structure to that of the PBL framework and allows for adaptations to be made to support varying school contexts. The incorporation of a yearly cyclic review process acknowledges existing parent skills and family needs, and recognises that the new cohort of parents come with their own unique needs and skills. Valuing all parents and linking with their family context gives schools the opportunity to understand what skills parents have, what skills they would like to develop and most importantly nurture communication and relationships. The model for Schools To Improve Parent Involvement (STIPI) is based on a capacity building approach to give all parents the opportunity to become involved in the life of the school and the education of their children. It was not within the scope of the study to test the model however, the findings clearly emphasised the need to re-examine how parents are welcomed and integrated into the academic and social fabric of schools.
Bidell, M. P., & Deacon, R. E. (2010). School counselors connecting the dots between disruptive classroom behavior and youth self-concept. Journal of School Counseling, 8(9). Brock, S., & Edmunds, A. L. (2010). Parental involvement: Barriers and opportunities. EAF Journal, 21(1), 48-59. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press. Brotman, L. M., Calzada, E., Huang, K., Kingston, S., Dawson-McClure, S., Kamboukos, D., ... Petkova, E. (2011). Promoting effective parenting practices and preventing child behavior problems in school among ethnically diverse families from underserved urban communities. Child Development, 82(1), 258–276. Clunies-Ross, P., Little, E., & Kienhuis, M. (2008). Self-reported and actual use of proactive and reactive classroom management strategies and their relationship with teacher stress and student behaviour. Educational Psychology, 28(6), 693–710. Christenson, S. L., & Hurley, C. M. (1997). Parents’ and school psychologists’ perspectives on parent involvement activities. School Psychology Review, 26(1), 111. Daniel, Wang, & Berthelsen. (2016). Early school-based parent involvement, children’s self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An Australian longitudinal study. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 36, 168-177. Henderson, A. T., & Mapp, K. L. (2002). A new wave of evidence: The impact of school, family, and community connections on student achievement. Annual synthesis, 2002. National Centre for Family Connections with Schools. Janssens, M., & Seynaeve, K. (2000). Collaborating to desegregate a “black” school: How can a low-power stakeholder gain voice? Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 36(1), 70–90. Lewis, T. J., & Sugai, G. (1999). Safe schools: School-wide discipline practices. Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders. NSW DET (NSW Department of Education and Training). (1996). Student welfare policy. NSW DET (NSW Department of Education and Training). (2006a). Student discipline in government schools policy. NSW Education Act, 1990. Pas, E. T., Bradshaw, C. P., Hershfeldt, P. A., & Leaf, P. J. (2010). A multilevel exploration of the influence of teacher efficacy and burnout on response to student problem behavior and school-based service use. School Psychology Quarterly, 25(1), 13–27. Wong, P. L. (2012). Parents’ perspectives of the home–school interrelationship: A study of two Hong Kong–Australian families. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(4), 59–67. Woodrow, C., Somerville, M., Naidoo, L., & Power, K. (2016). Researching parent engagement: A qualitative field study. Kingswood, NSW: Western Sydney University. Yin, R. K. (2016). Qualitative research from start to finish (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.
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