An essential concern in special education is the attitudes and the views of teachers in regard to the involvement of the parents in facilitating the smooth learning process for special needs children. According to Berkant, Oz, and Atilgan (2019), the perceptions held by teachers can determine the degree of collaboration that exists between the teacher and parents of children with special needs. In a study to investigate the attitudes of teachers in regard to parental involvement in their children’s education, Abdull, Seedee, Alzaidiyeen, Al-Shabatat, Alzeydeen, and AlAwabdeh (2011) found that in-service teachers have a positive attitude on parental involvement in the education of their children. Accordingly, many teachers are bound to support initiatives and programs that seek to foster teacher-parent involvement in facilitating a smooth learning process for children with special needs (Abdull et al., 2011). The study findings by Abdull et al. also indicated that older teachers are more likely to proactively support parental involvement in the education process of children with special needs. Notably, such elderly teachers have accumulated years of experience and, unlike young teachers, understand the special needs of these children and the role that active participation and involvement of the parent can play towards making the process of learning for these children a smooth one.
In another study similar to that by Abdull et al., Dor and Rucker-Naidu (2012) investigated the attitudes of teachers on parental involvement. Using a sample of 56 elementary and secondary schools sampled from Israel and USA for comparison, Dor and Rucker-Naidu (2012) found that teachers perceive parental involvement in education as a voluntary undertaking in that parent of children with special needs as well as normal children can choose when and how to get involved in helping facilitate smooth learning for their children. Dor and Rucker-Naidu (2012) also found that teachers in both Israel and the United States are supportive of parental involvement, and many teachers are empowered by active parental involvement in the education process of children (Dor, 2013). Further, in a study that investigated teachers’ perspectives of the varying factors that can have an impact on parental involvement in special education programs, Blackman and Mahon (2016) found that there are both in-school and out-of-school factors that can influence parental involvement in special education programs. In-school factors include processes and systems for parents consultations and discontinuation of programs, while out-of-school factors with the potential to influence parental involvement according to teachers are levels of collaboration and coping.
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Researchers have devoted much effort and resources to understand the role and the impact of parental involvement in the success of special education programs. Such an effort is of great importance, and the findings in these studies are important and worth reviewing to help have a clear background of the current research study. Investigating the perceptions of parents of children with special education in the design of individualistic learning program based on a child’s needs, MacKichan and Harkins, (2013) found that such parental involvement is of great importance. Particularly, parental involvement in the development of individualistic learning program for children with special needs helps in not only the success of the program but also helps facilitate smooth learning for special needs children on the basis of their learning abilities (MacKichan & Harkins, 2013).
In another study, Murray, Handyside, Straka, and Arton-Titus (2013) found that empowering parents is of vital important towards helping these parents understand the ways in which they can be involved in the education process of children with special needs. Primarily, Murray et al. (2013) used a sample of 71 parents of children with special learning needs to understand the role of training these parents on active participation and involvement in the education process of children with special learning needs. The study findings indicated that the training of parents of children with special needs is of critical importance in facilitating the involvement of these parents in the education of their children. Particularly, Murray et al. (2013) found that after detailed training of parents of children with special learning needs helped these parents feel more confident on decision-making, accessing necessary resources, positive perception change, upholding feelings of mutual respect, group affiliation, and their overall experience as change agents in the learning process of children with special needs. These study findings indicate that there is a need for stakeholders in special education to focus on ensuring that parents of children with special needs are sufficiently trained and equipped with the knowledge on how they can actively participate in the learning process of children with special needs (Balli, 2016).
The efforts to achieve parental involvement while appreciated and supported by many teachers, there are also challenges that hinder efficient parental involvement in the education of special children. According to Horby and Lafaele (2011), effective parental involvement in the education and learning process of children with disabilities is negatively impacted by barriers such as historical and demographic issues, political issues, and economic issues. These barriers can significantly slow down the process of parental involvement in four main arrears that work together to allow for smooth learning for children with disabilities. These areas are the child, the parent, and the family, the parent-teacher relation, and the society, all important for supporting the learning of children with special needs (Horby & Lafaele, 2011). There are also challenges associated with the smooth implementation of special education programs that can allow for effective parental involvement in the education of children with special needs (Qu, 2015). Accordingly, it also becomes notable that for efficient parental involvement in special education, parents must be empowered, through education, on how to manage and overcome the difficulties that these barriers may present.
Abdull, A.G.K., Seedee, R., Alzaidiyeen, N.J., Al-Shabatat, A., Alzeydeen, H.K., & AlAwabdeh, A. (2011). An investigation of teachers’ attitudes toward parental involvement. International Educational Research Journal, 2(8), 1402-1408.
Balli, D. (2016). Importance of parental involvement to meet the special needs of their children with disabilities in regular school. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.5901/ajis.2016.v5n1p147
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Berkant, H. S., Oz, A. S., & Atilgan, G. (2019). Parents’ and teachers’ roles in parent involvement in special education: who is responsible, to what extent? International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 11 (2), 20-36.
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Hornby, G., & Lafaele, R. (2011). Barriers to parental involvement in education: An explanatory model. Educational Review, 63(1), 37-52.
MacKichan, D. M., & Harkins, J. M. (2013). Inclusive education: perceptions of parents of children with special needs of the individual program planning process. Electronic Journal of Inclusive Education, 3(1).
Murray, M. M., Handyside, M. L., Straka, A. L., & Arton-Titus, V. T. (2013). Parents empowerment: connecting with preservice special education teachers. School Community Journal, 23(1), 145-168.
Qu, X. (2015). Understanding special school provision for children with severe learning difficulties in relation to inclusive education. Cambridge Open-Review Educational Research e-Journal, 1(1).
Rodriguez, R. J., Blatz, E. T., & Elbaum, B. (2014). Parents’ views of schools’ involvement efforts. Exceptional Children Journal, 81(1), 79-95. https://doi.org/10.1177/0014402914532232
Smith, T. E., & Sheridan, S. M. (2017). The effects of teacher training on teachers’ family-engagement practices, attitudes, and knowledge: A Meta-analysis. Journal of Education and Psychological Consultation, 29(2), 128-157.
Whitning, M. (2012). Impact, meaning and need for help and support: the experience of parents caring for children with disabilities, life-limiting/life-threatening illness or technology dependence. Journal of Child Health Care, 17(1), 92-108.
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