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In the past two decades, much has changed in education. The civil rights movement in the 1960s focused attention on the unequal schooling of minorities and the poor preparation of those groups for school. At the same time Jerome Bruner and Benjamin Bloom were claiming that children can learn any subject at any age and that they attain half their intellectual ability by the age of 4, thus emphasizing the importance of early childhood education (Elkind, 1986). In the later 60s and early 70s, when it was becoming clear that new early childhood programs were not enough alone to meet the need, attention turned to the family milieu. New research showed that a child's achievement correlated strongly with parent interest in that child--with factors such as quality of maternal language, amount of reading and conversation, and appropriate play materials. When the federal government mandated guidelines for parent involvement in such preschool programs as Head Start, public school districts also began to add a parent component to their early childhood programs (Honig, 1982). This rationale has been validated not only by national research (Honig, 1982; Rich, 1985; Stallings and Stipek, 1986) but also by research conducted by the Department of Research and Evaluation of the Chicago Public Schools (Chicago Public Schools, 1985, 1986). In this latter case, children whose parents come to their schools and participate in school projects and who, especially, choose to work in their children's classrooms have shown significantly higher gain scores on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills than children whose parents were not so involved. These differences in gain scores were as much as 3-4 months and appeared in linguistic areas such as vocabulary and language (1985) and word analysis (1986).

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