Parents as a resource in early childhood education : a pilot study

Since paraprofessionals have begun to be used in many schools to augment the educational programs on a fairly large scale, this pilot study was initiated to investigate the effects and possible benefits of the participation of parents as paraprofessionals in the classroom. Three surveys were run. Questionnaires were created and distributed to the educators and the parents who were involved in the program in one elementary school. An evaluation of a sample of children was done to compare the progress of the involved parents children with the progress of the non-involved parents' children. It was hypothesized that the educators would see the program as beneficial to their teaching efforts. It was also hypothesized that the children whose parents are aides would be more sucessful than the children of non-involved parents as assessed by teacher ratings and success on the "SWIRL" reading program. The parent questionnaire was created to attempt to determine which variables may relate to the parental involvement. Chi square results indicate that the educators see the program as beneficial to their teaching efforts at the .001 level of significance. The Spearman R indicates that income relates significantly to the parent participation. It is possible that had the non-involved parents been assessed, more related variables would have been determined. Two kindergarten classes were chosen--one of which had six aides and the other had seven aides. The classrooms were assessed separately in an attempt to hold such variables as teacher abilities and classroom environment constant. The Spearman R indicates that teacher rankings and children's progress on the "SWIRL" program correlate at the .01 level for both, classes. The Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to determine whether the experimental groups (children of involved parents) had greater success than the control groups (children of non-involved parents). In classroom 1 the experimental group was more successful than the control group at the .0.5 level of significance. However, the children in classroom 2 showed no significant difference. This may be due to the fact that classroom 2 was set up for non-English speaking children. (This fact was unknown to this researcher.) This research gives implications and considerations for possible further research with a larger more inclusive sample. The use of control groups for the assessment of the educators and the parents would be necessary to get more conclusive results.