Why do New Zealand parents become involved in their children’s early childhood education?NZARE Conference & Annual Meeting 2012, 29-30 November. Hamilton, New Zealand (2013)
Collaborative relationships between parents and teachers in early childhood settings have moved to
the forefront of education practice and policy initiatives in NZ. This research aims to investigate the
factors underlying parents' decision to participate in early childhood education in New Zealand.
In the context of elementary/secondary education, Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler (1997) identifies
three major constructs as central to parents’ basic involvement decisions which are: (1) parents’ role
construction (parents’ beliefs about what they are supposed to do to support their children’s
education); (2) parents’ sense of efficacy for helping their children succeed in school (the extent to
which parents believe that through their involvement they can exert a positive influence on their
children’s educational outcomes), and (3) parents’ perception of general invitations and opportunities
for involvement (parents’ perceptions that the child and school want them to be involved).
In light of the Hoover-Dempsey and Sandler model, as well as Epstein’s (1995) typology of parental
involvement, the research question of this study was formulated as: What are determinants of parental
involvement in early childhood education among English speaking parents in New Zealand?
Participants were 127 parents who were recruited from 50 public kindergartens in the Auckland region.
The data collection was comprised of a multi-section questionnaire survey of all participants and
semi-structured interviews with 25 participants. Parent Family Involvement Questionnaire (FIQ)
(Fantuzzo et al., 2000), Parental Role Construction for Involvement in the Child’s Education Scale:
Role Activity Beliefs (Walker et al., 2005), Parental Sense of Competence Scale (Johnston & Mash,
1989), and Parenting Styles and Dimension Questionnaire (Robinson, et al., 2001) were adapted to
measure parental involvement, role construction, self-efficacy and parenting style. Parent interviews
were based on a selection of questions from the parental involvement section of the parent
questionnaire, and the interviews provided in-depth insights into the possible reasons for different
level of involvement.
Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that role construction and work status in hours
were significant contributors to communicating with teachers, role construction was significant
contributor to volunteering to help at kindergarten, authoritative was significant contributor to helping
the child’s learning at home, and role construction and self-efficacy were significant contributors to
participating in kindergarten decision making.
The study partially supported and extended a seminal model based on the US school samples to a
preschool sample in New Zealand, and provided a framework for conceptualising and formulating
strategies to enhance parental involvement in early childhood education in New Zealand.
Citation InformationZhang, Q. (2013). Why do New Zealand parents become involved in their children’s early childhood education? NZARE Conference & Annual Meeting 2012, 29-30 November. Hamilton, New Zealand: The New Zealand Association for Research in Education.