Mexican Immigrant Mothers in a New York City Neighborhood: Reconceptualizing Family Engagement from a Sociocultural Perspective
By: Yasmin Morales-Alexander
Published: 5/18/2016
Uploaded: 06/06/2018
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2016 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: family engagement, Funds of Knowledge, grounded theory, Immigrants, Latino, Mothers

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Description/Abstract: A growing body of research suggests that authentic engagement of families in their children's early learning supports school readiness and later academic success. The traditional and pervasive definition of family engagement is not so much the process of engagement but the "acts" or "things" that parents do in the service of the school. Initial research on "parent involvement" suggests that this form of family engagement is correlated with higher student academic achievement, better student attendance, and more positive student and parent attitudes towards education While these can be considered laudable goals for all children and their families, these goals are also rife with assumptions related to fundamental questions such as how families ensure that their children reach said goals and whether all families have the same goals for their children.
The purpose of this grounded theory study was to understand, within the context of a sociocultural theory and funds of knowledge conceptual framework, the family engagement practices of six Mexican immigrant families whose child(ren) were enrolled in a local Head Start program in a New York City neighborhood. Through a constructivist grounded theory approach, data analysis of 20 in-depth interviews evoked a proposed theory which I identified as the theory of Family Engagement and Cultural Accommodation.
This proposed theory asserts that the Mexican immigrant families of this study were wholly engaged in their young children's development and that they relied on their "cultural knowledge" to understand and enact their family engagement practices. Moreover, as they engaged with their children and their children's schools, their "cultural knowledge" expanded, creating an "additive" effect to their existing cultural frameworks. Based on the subject families' conceptualization and enactment of their family engagement practices, this study offers specific recommendations regarding (a) the cultural accommodation process of immigrant families, (b) the cultural competence of preservice teachers, and (c) preservice teacher education programs.
Having a better understanding of how and why Mexican immigrant families did what they did in the context of their children's development has the potential for providing us with insight that can inform our practice and future research in early childhood education.
Note School code: 0055.