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The Harvard Family Research Project separated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to become the Global Family Research Project as of January 1, 2017. It is no longer affiliated with Harvard University.

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Jerold P. Bauch, Professor Emeritus
Vanderbilt University

Note: This professor no longer teaches this course, but kindly agreed to share it with members as a resource archive.

Berger, E.H. (1995). Parents as Partners in Education: Families and Schools Working Together. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Merrill.

Content, Concepts, Skills, and Strategies
This is a course about parent involvement and the relationship between homes, schools, and communities. Content is organized around how the home, family, and school influences the growth, development, and education of younger children. Students will learn how schools relate to parents and will acquire knowledge and skills to implement excellent parent involvement programs. The basic knowledge source is the theory, research, and practice about parent involvement and the functional connections between homes and schools. For prospective teachers, this course is directly related to the student teaching experience and will prepare you to conduct some of the activities as you work in classrooms. For other human services professionals, applications will vary with career plans. The final outcome will be to assist participants to build effective partnerships between schools, homes, and agencies.

There will be three exams (17%) plus the cumulative final (22%). Both the issue paper and the case study are given 5%. The PI/PE plan paper is 12%; the remaining 5% is for classroom contributions/participation and attendance.

Course Requirements

  • Attend each class and read the assignments in advance.
  • Issue mini-paper - Select a controversial issue in parent involvement or parenting and present two points of view from the research literature. You may use a pro/con format or other presentation style. Save the last paragraph for your viewpoint.
  • Case study -Talk with two different families about their relationships with the school or child care center attended by their child/children. Some suggestions and guidelines will be provided later in the class.
  • Application paper - Using the title "PI/PE Plan," describe and justify three to five different activities that you can try with parents during student teaching. Use at least two references per activity to support your ideas and write the paper so you can actually carry out all these events.
  • Observation/visitation - Attendance at a parent involvement event, such as a local school PTA meeting, open house, parent workshop, etc.
  • Participation - Contribute ideas from your own experience, outside reading and the text book; ask questions and discuss issues in class.

Students will be prepared to:

  • Relate an integrated curriculum to children's home experience.
  • Establish and maintain positive, collaborative relationships with families.
  • Respect parents' choices and goals for children and communicate effectively with parents about curriculum and children's progress.
  • Involve families in assessing and planning for individual children, including children with disabilities, developmental delays, or special abilities.
  • Support parents in making decisions related to their child's development and parenting.
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to differences in family structures and social and cultural backgrounds.
  • Apply family systems theory, knowledge of the dynamics, roles, and relationships within families and communities.
  • Link families with a range of family-oriented services based on identified resources, priorities, and concerns.
  • Communicate effectively with other professionals concerned with children with agencies in the larger community to support children's development, learning, and well-being.
  • Participate and assist other professionals in conducting family-centered assessments.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of conditions of children, families, and professionals, current issues and trends and legislation and other public policies affecting children, families and programs for young children and the early childhood profession.
  • Establish and maintain positive, collaborative relationships with colleagues, other professionals and families and work effectively as a member of a professional team.

Topics/Content/Reading Schedule

  • First class: course overview & requirements, instructions and stories, trend sample statistics, one model of parenting. Read Chapter 1.
  • The foundations of parenthood and the institution of family, social, cultural and psychological contexts, Right from the Start VT, attachment, bonding, early linkages. Read Chapter 3.
  • Developmental theory, the research rationale for ECE and the influence of the family. Read Chapter 2.
  • Social policy and the political issues about families, recent history, current events, and trends, the rationale for government intervention, the concept of community. Read Chapter 3.
  • Federal policy on parent involvemen, Goals 2000, Title I, Head Start, etc.
  • The influence of race, ethnicity and SES on parent attitudes and behaviors. Read chap. 4.
  • Introduction to parent involvement (VT), partnerships, roles and relationships, the Brim/Bronfenbrenner/Gordon model of family/community relationships. Read Chapter 7.
  • Content review
  • Exam 1
  • Innovations is school based PI, electronics, telecommunications, and the Transparent School Model. Read Chapter 5.
  • Using telecommunications to communicate with families, skill-building and practice session.
  • Direct teacher/parent communications, introduction to parent/teacher conferences (VT). Issue mini-paper due.
  • Communications skills workshop, effectiveness training and professional control, first conference simulation
  • Using the media, press releases and newsletter workshop. Read Chapter 8.
  • Can and should the school influence the home environment? Home-based program models and outreach strategies, younger siblings at home.
  • Exam 2
  • What is so special about the parents of exceptional children? Needs, laws, teacher roles, and other issues (guest speaker). Read Chapter 6.
  • Local initiatives and program models, family school coordinators, and family resource centers (guest speakers). Read Chapter 9.
  • Regrouping, synthesis and summary of key principles, unanswered questions about parenting, parent education, and involvement.
  • Models for parent education and training; workshops, classes, leadership training.
  • Strategies and special problems involving working parents with children in day care.
  • Popular program models and "brand name" parent involvement approaches, Comer, PAT, HIPPY, STEP.
  • Home schooling and other choices
  • Exam 3
  • School-based programs and school district policies
  • Is there ever enough parent and community involvement? (application paper due)
  • Last class - to lead and engage the school community

Free. Available online only.

© 2016 Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Published by Harvard Family Research Project