How African American Parents Understand Their and Teachers' Roles in Children's Schooling and What this Means for Preparing Preservice Teachers

Apr. 15, 2008

Source: Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, Volume 29, Issue 2 April 2008 , pages 108 – 139

Preservice teachers are socialized by their own raced, classed, and gendered experiences to expect “caring parents” to behave and contribute in certain ways to their children's schooling. Preservice teachers who come from widely divergent backgrounds from the communities in which they serve can sometimes be skeptical of parents who are not involved in children's schooling in ways that are familiar from their own upbringing. Moreover, much of the existing scholarship on parent involvement and the transition to school takes a top-down approach that discounts the important knowledge parents bring to the table.

This is a study of African American parents of young children who were preparing to transition to kindergarten or first grade that proposes an alternate conversation about what we can learn from parents when we examine their ways of framing and enacting “involvement” in their children's school lives. African American parents and caregivers (N = 25) participated in qualitative interviews. Thematic analyses of the interviews revealed that participants constructed preparation for the transition to school broadly, as preparation for the “real world.” I will discuss the implications of the study for teaching, teacher education, and future research, so that preservice teachers and teacher educators can begin to build a greater imagination for parent involvement.

Updated: Sep. 04, 2008