First Advisor

Christine Chaille

Term of Graduation

Winter 2008

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Parent involvement, Preschool children, Kindergarten, Early childhood education, Poverty, Phenomenology



Physical Description

1 online resource, (2, vi, 181 pages)


Schools are recognizing the importance of parent involvement in children's education, but they often struggle to work with families living in poverty whose definition of parent partnership may differ from that of school staff (Lareau, 1987). Parents who live in poverty may feel inferior to school staff due to their lack of economic and educational resources. They may lack the expertise to be able to effectively communicate and work with school staff in making decisions that affect their children. With the increased expectations that schools place on families in supporting their children's education, this mismatch between the resources and experiences of the home and those of the school places children from these families at an educational disadvantage.

This qualitative research study, based on a phenomenological research approach, followed five Head Start parents during the months leading up to and shortly after their children's transition to kindergarten. A phenomenological approach focuses on the individual lived experience of the study participants and how their understanding of those experiences shapes their view of the concept or phenomenon. A series of in-depth interviews was conducted with parents, which focused on the parents' descriptions of parent involvement and their early involvement in their children's education. This study sought to better understand Head Start parents' perceptions of parental involvement, by describing how Head Start parents come to understand the phenomena of parent involvement and how the role(s) they believe they play in their children's education might be influenced not only by their previous life experiences, but by their experience in Head Start and their early encounters with the school. It is hoped that this study might lead to the development of strategies to better prepare Head Start parents to be involved in their children's education as they transition from Head Start programs into kindergarten.


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