Support for parent participation in primary school


  • Judith K. Bernhard Ryerson Polytechnic University
  • Marlinda Freire Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto
  • Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw ntario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto



Parent Participation, Foreign Countries, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Social Class, Adaptation, Cultural Capital


This article describes how a group of Latin American parents became more effective in their dealings with their childrens schools, a mainstream Canadian institution. Ethnicity, along with race, gender, and social class, is a critical determinant in of the interactions between schools and any group of newcomers to a society, particularly when those newcomers are an ethnic minority. Over an eight-month period, twelve Latin American parents met monthly to discuss aspects of their childrens experience with the Canadian educational system. These parents learned to collaborate with teachers and expressed their needs, but also affirmed their ethno-cultural differences. The positive feedback on their activities led to unforeseen gains, not just in relation to education and the schools. This exploratory study focuses on how the experience helped the parents to better comprehend what is expected of them in the support of their childrens schooling while retaining their own cultural assets. This study may serve as a possible model of adaptation for newcomer groups in their efforts to integrate in the school system.


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Author Biographies

Judith K. Bernhard, Ryerson Polytechnic University

Dr. Judith Bernhard is a native of Chile, a lecturer, author, educator, and parent. She is currently an associate professor at the School of Early Childhood Education at Ryerson University, Canada. Over the last 20 years, she has been involved in a number of initiatives including a national study on diversity (Paths to Equity: Cultural, linguistic, and racial diversity in Canadian Early Childhood Education) and the establishment of the Early Childhood Diversity Network. Dr. Bernhard teaches child development courses and has a particular interest on infants, toddlers, immigrant and refugee children. Her focus is on pluralistic models that honour the role of culture in determining optimal caregiving. She has written extensively on the topics of human development and the situation of Latin American children and their families in Canada.

Marlinda Freire, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto

Marlinda Freire, M.D., F.R.C.P.(C) Chief Psychiatrist, Toronto District School Board. Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. Staff Psychiatrist, Hospital for Sick Children. Research Associate. Joint Centre of Excellence For Research on Immigration and Settlement, Federal Government of Canada. Research Associate. Centre for Refugee Studies, York University. Associate Fellow on Latin America and the Caribbean, York University.

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw, ntario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Veronica Pacini-Ketchabaw is a native of Argentina. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the Ontario Institute for the Studies in Education of the University of Toronto and an instructor at the School of Early Childhood Education at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Canada. She is involved in a national study of multi-age approaches to early childhood education in contexts of cultural and linguistic diversity. she has worked with the Latin American community in Toronto in a variety of research projects. She is interested in how social relations of knowledge relate to educational issues confronting culturally and linguistically diverse populations.




How to Cite

Bernhard, J. K., Freire, M., & Pacini-Ketchabaw, V. (2000). Support for parent participation in primary school. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 8, 52.