Empowering Parents As Partners In Learning: Practices For Developing A Robust Home Learning Environment

Jennifer L. Bencivengo, Sacred Heart University

A dissertation in the Isabelle Farrington College of Education and Human Development presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education.


Parents are often considered a child’s first teacher. However, not all parents are equipped with adequate strategies or have access to equitable resources to provide a rich home learning environment for their children. Bodies of research consistently identify discrepancies in kindergarten readiness from a social, emotional, and academic learning vantage point when discussing foundational literacy skills, the overreliance on technology, and developmentally appropriate executive functioning skills (Bassok & Reardon, 2013a; Jung, 2016; Reardon & Portilla, 2016a; Wolf & McCoy, 2019a). In an attempt to address the inequities in school readiness has more recently been examined with focus on community based social emotional learning needs, specifically, the need to increase parent and community connection to schools prior to kindergarten enrollment. This improvement science dissertation sought to address the disparity across elementary schools of baseline literacy and language exposure of students by developing effective parent engagement programming to enhance the home learning environment. The scholarly researcher invited parents of children aged 3–11 to attend two workshops providing implementable strategies for increasing language and literacy in the home through increased access to books, paired reading, and dialogic reading. The sample size of parents completing pre- and post- workshop checklists and exit tickets was relatively low compared to number of parents in attendance. However, key findings of this study based on level of interest and themes analyzed indicated parents identified the workshop model was an effective and accessible strategy for parents in developing a robust home learning environment. Analysis of website traffic post workshop also indicated ongoing parental and caregiver interest in additional resources. Therefore, the positive results of this early stage of research indicate benefits of providing engaging, accessible workshops for parents to further their efforts to develop a robust home learning environment.