The authors used teacher action research with the design experiment (A. Brown, 1992) to investigate the effects of working with parents in small groups on kindergarten children's emergent literacy performance. The authors randomly assigned 56 children enrolled in the morning and afternoon sessions of the first author's kindergarten class in a rural public school in central Pennsylvania to either the treatment (parent input) or the comparison (no parent input) condition during small-group language enrichment. The authors made pre- and posttreatment assessments on the children's emergent literacy. The authors also interviewed the children for their reactions to having parents in their classroom. Eighteen parents (15 mothers and 3 fathers) who served to a varying extent as classroom volunteers over 5 months, and other parents who returned questionnaire surveys but did not volunteer in the classroom, also were participants. Results indicated that children in general had positive perceptions of parents' presence in the classroom and that children in the treatment group outperformed comparison-group children on posttreatment measures of word, but not letter, recognition. On the basis of parent self-reports, results also indicated that parents' current reading practices with their children—but not parents' early literacy experiences from their own childhoods—were associated positively and significantly with extent of their classroom volunteer participation. Recommendations for working with parents in the classroom are proffered on the basis of these direct experiences.
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