When teachers were surveyed and asked what they needed to improve a student’s success, 95% of inner city educators wanted parents to be more involved and improve communication with the parents (Ellis and Hughes, 2002). Unfortunately, communication initiated by teachers typically happens when the teacher feels there is trouble with a student. Ferrera (2009) stated similar ideas in her study from the parents perspective, that parents inclined to be hesitant to call schools, but would call “more often if their children were in trouble or failing their subjects” (p. 133).
Consequently, there is the perception from educators that many parents who are not involved in their child’s education are, as a result, failing to contribute to a child’s success in school. Given the numerous studies which have proven that parental involvement is a critical part of a child’s success in education, then what are the barriers that prevent parents from becoming involved in a special needs child’s school and educational environment? Research has determined some of the barriers to parental involvement in their child’s academic achievement. These include: working, maintaining a household, managing normal life, lack of time, monitoring their children, language, transportation, not receiving announcements in a timely manner, culture and attitudes (Erdener, 2014). Today’s families have different responsibilities than in previous decades. There are more single working parents and more families where both parents work full time outside the home. With more family responsibilities and less time, involvement in education becomes less of a priority.
The barriers to parental involvement for parents of children with disabilities are multifaceted, influenced by factors such has interpersonal communication skills, family characteristics, and educational beliefs (Howland, Anderson, Smiley & Abbot, 2006). Research conducted by Howland, Anderson, Smiley & Abbot (2006) indicates that parents were more likely to be involved when they had greater education, effective coping strategies and school support. Henderson and Mapp (2002) examined sixteen studies on effective strategies for connecting schools and families. Henderson and Mapp (2002) concluded “programs and initiatives focused on building respectful and trusting relationships among school staff and families are effective in creating and sustaining family connections with schools” (p. 43).
Another barrier to consider is the time at which school activities, which involve parents, are generally held. Time may be the most precious commodity that families need to support their children. With the rise of parents working, single-parent families, and the need for family members to hold more than one job, many families are experiencing a time crunch. Typically, school activities occur during the day when most parents are at work. Ferrara (2009) stated that “parents’ work schedules” (p. 134) prevented them from being more involved in the...