Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Jennifer Smolka

Abstract

Evidence suggests that parents in low socioeconomic households may have unaddressed educational needs about their children's development. The purpose of this case study was to discover innovative ways parents in a low socioeconomic community engaged in activities with their young children to influence academic and social development. Bronfenbrenner's ecological theory of human development and Epstein's parental involvement model, the family process model, and the family strength model were used to build the conceptual framework. Parents and educators were asked to describe parent-engagement opportunities that were provided within the kindergarten classroom. Data were collected using a focus group with 13 educators who were involved in early childhood education to discuss parental involvement in the early development of young children and via in-depth interviews with 6 parents who attended classroom events to promote engagement in their child's development in school and at home. Data were analyzed in a cycle with a deductive coding process. Manual coding was completed in each stage. The major themes identified include creating a team of early childhood educators and parents, building 21st century thinking skills, and enabling the community for early preparation using authentic learning. Recommendations were presented for educators and parents as they guide young children in the development of academic, social, and behavioral skills. Positive social change will come to the full community as parents are more prepared to equip their children with 21st century learning skills; in turn, children will obtain higher levels of achievement and enter the work force equipped for success.