Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 445–452 | Cite as

Perceptions About Parental Engagement Among Hispanic Immigrant Mothers of First Graders from Low-Income Backgrounds

  • Samantha Berkule Johnson
  • Jenny Arevalo
  • Carolyn Brockmeyer Cates
  • Adriana Weisleder
  • Benard P. Dreyer
  • Alan L. Mendelsohn


Parental engagement is critical to children’s educational achievement. Before and during elementary school, it is crucial for parents to be involved in their children’s education in order to foster development and achievement. Hispanic parents’ immigrant status, coupled with a lack of English proficiency, means that they often find themselves of low socioeconomic status (SES). Being low SES also means that parents possess fewer resources for engaging with their children. The current study seeks to understand low-income, primarily Hispanic mothers’ perceptions of their roles in their first grade children’s education. Mothers were interviewed regarding parenting confidence related to teaching their children, and responses were analyzed using qualitative research methods. Mothers in this study associated their roles in their children’s education with two primary areas: helping their children to learn, and raising their children to be well-behaved and respectful. The main barrier to parental confidence in these roles appeared to be mothers’ lack of English proficiency. This is consistent with previous research demonstrating that Hispanic parents maintain the perception of a lack of proficiency in English as a significant barrier to parental involvement in their children’s education in the United States. Future interventions with teachers and parents may benefit from these findings in consideration of the optimal ways to involve parent related to their perceived personal strengths regarding parental engagement.


Parenting confidence Parental engagement Low-income 



This study was supported by grant R01 HD047740-01-07 from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and by the Tiger Foundation, the Marks Family Foundation, the Rhodebeck Charitable Trust, Children of Bellevue, Inc., and KiDS of NYU. There are no conflicts of interest to disclose. We are grateful to many individuals who contributed to this project, including Jennifer Ledesma, Caroline Raak, Jessica Urgelles, Triana Urraca, Kristina Vlahovicova, Lisa White, Margaret Wolff, and Brenda Woodford.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha Berkule Johnson
    • 1
  • Jenny Arevalo
    • 2
  • Carolyn Brockmeyer Cates
    • 2
  • Adriana Weisleder
    • 2
  • Benard P. Dreyer
    • 2
  • Alan L. Mendelsohn
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMarymount Manhattan CollegeNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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