¡Quiero estudiar! Mexican Immigrant Mothers' Participation in Their Children's Schooling--and Their Own
- Author(s): Miano, Alice Anne
- Advisor(s): Hull, Glynda
- Valdés, Guadalupe
- et al.
This dissertation examines the literacy practices and parental school involvement of
a group of seven first-generation Mexican immigrant mothers who participated in native
language literacy classes designed for parents at their children's school. Using ethnographic
methods to detail the mothers' lived histories, cultural moorings, and current
practices at home and at school, the study found that the mothers participated in their
children's schooling--and their own--in a variety of ways, regardless of their individually
varying levels of access to print and formal schooling. Specifically, the mothers enjoined
their own family literacy networks, engaging their children in needed literacy tasks
at home that supported school-based literacies in kind. These social networks involved
print and non-print literate members in exchanges of various forms of assistance, print-related
and otherwise. In parent classes, framed as a safe haven for readers and writers at
all levels, the mothers similarly engaged in exchanges of print literacies and other forms
of cultural capital, such as knowledge about school and community doings.
Through words and actions, the mothers defined parental participation as support
for their children's schooling in seven broad moral and material categories, many of
which have yet to be recognized in much of the academic literature. Specifically, the
mothers defined and enacted parent involvement typologically as: parental presence on
the school grounds; networking with other parents, teachers, or administrators; participating
in school or community activities; literacy and numeracy support; providing material
support for their children such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, and transportation; providing
moral support such as encouraging children or keeping after them as needed; and
acting as positive role models for their children.
The study suggests that viewing parental involvement from parental perspectives
may give educators and researchers greater insights into the efforts, achievements, and
challenges of parents from a variety of racial, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds.