The Salience of the Subtle Aspects of Parental Involvement and Encouraging That Involvement: Implications for School-Based Programs

Mar. 10, 2010

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 112 Number 3, 2010, p. 747-774.

For many years, educators, parents, and social scientists have conceptualized engaged parents as those who help their children with their homework, frequently attend school functions, and maintain household rules that dictate when their young engage in schoolwork and leisure. Recent meta-analyses on parental involvement confirm the salience of more subtle social variables, which Bandura and Walters asserted may be even more important than overt parental behavior in fostering positive student outcomes. These results indicate that factors such as parental expectations, the quality of parent–child communication, and parental style may be more highly related to student achievement than various more overt expressions of this involvement.


The purpose of the article is to examine what the body of research literature indicates about the role and utility of the subtle aspects of parental involvement. The article first establishes a theoretical framework, using Bandura and Walter’s research.

Then the article focuses on three issues regarding parental involvement:
(1) the salience of subtle aspects of parental involvement;
(2) subtle actions are also important to help schools more completely involve parents;
and (3) to what extent is it possible to educate parents to become more involved?
The article also addresses whether those aspects of parental involvement that are the most efficacious in everyday living are also the most vital in school-based parental involvement programs.

Research Design
The article is an analytical essay that summarizes the recent research on the influence of subtle aspects of parental involvement. It reaches conclusions based on investigations into family and school practices.


There are deliberate actions that teachers can take to enhance parental involvement.
First, educate parents to comprehend, and then act on, the fact that it is probably some of the more subtle aspects of parental involvement, such as high expectations and communication, that are among the most important.

Second, educate school leaders, teachers, and staff to understand that raising parental participation may be more a function of subtle but important demonstrations of love and respect than a matter of instructing parents to apply particular methods of helping children.

Naturally, all these factors are important, but the spirit and the attitude of parental involvement may actually be more important than the pedagogy applied at home. As parents, educators, and other leaders apply these principles, it is likely that parental involvement in the early 21st century will be greater than it has been in recent memory. Ultimately, teachers, students, and parents will all benefit from this development.

Updated: May. 25, 2010