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Theories on Parent Involvement

by Erica Loop, studioD

Whether you plan on volunteering to chaperone your third-grader's school field trip, go into the classroom to read to your kindergartner's friends, coach your daughter's soccer team or help your little learner start a club, parental involvement is usually a positive factor in a child's development. Several theories spell out how experts think parental involvement affects children.


According to child development experts at the KidsHealth website, parents can help children develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. Getting involved in your child's life -- at school, in sports or at home -- will not only show her how interested you are in her world, but can also help her self-esteem. Providing praise and positive feedback is one mechanism for the parent to foster the child's self-esteem. On top of using praise, involving yourself in cooperative, constructive activities with your child and for your child -- such as encouraging her to volunteer with you at a animal shelter -- can give help her develop pride in herself and her abilities.


The educational experts at the Michigan Department of Education note that 86 percent of the public consider parents key pieces in the school success puzzle. Getting involved in your child's academics and educational environment can help her succeed at school, improve her grades and boost test scores. When it comes to school and the child's education, John Hopkins University scholar Joyce Epstein describes a six-type theory of parental involvement. This includes parenting, which covers creating positive educational environments at home through family support programs and home visits, communicating between home and school, volunteering in the school, learning at home such as helping the child with homework, decision-making such as involving yourself in a parent-teacher organization or advocacy group, and collaborating with the community to identify essential family resources and services.


Coaching your child's soccer or basketball team doesn't just mean you are a glorified babysitter. Parental involvement in sports means much more to kids than simply providing juice boxes and a snack after a practice or a game. Getting involved in your child's sports team, or individual sport, can help you demonstrate your enjoyment for physical fitness and athletics. As a positive role model, you can increase your child's willingness to participate in physical pursuits. While youth athletics experts at the Educated Sports Parents suggest that the positives of parental involvement are abundant, some negatives lurk. Overly directive parents or those who maintain excessive pressure and demand success can cast a negative light on youth athletics, cause the child stress or make the child uninterested in participating.

Volunteer Involvement

While helping out in her classroom or chaperoning a school party can positively influence your child's development and behavior, volunteering together in your community can help shape your little one's values and beliefs. According to KidsHealth, getting yourself and your child involved in a volunteer opportunity such as helping out an an animal shelter or helping out at a soup kitchen can create a sense of responsibility in your child.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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