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Citation:DeCusati, C. L. P., & Johnson, J. E. (2004). Parents as classroom volunteers and kindergarten students' emergent reading skills. Journal of Educational Research, 97(5), 235-246.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of parent classroom volunteers on the reading skills of kindergarten students. The researchers used teacher action research to investigate the effects of working with parents in small groups on emergent reading skills. Children were randomly assigned to either a treatment group that received parent input or a comparison group that did not receive parent input. Analyses indicated that children who participated in a parent-enriched reading group showed significantly better word-but not letter-recognition on posttreatment measures than comparison group children. Results also showed that children reacted positively to parents' presence in the classroom. In addition, the current reading practices of the parents who volunteered were positively related to the extent to which they volunteered in their children's classroom. Students' emergent literacy skills were measured with pre- and posttreatment assessments. Children were interviewed by teachers to gauge their reactions to having their parents in the classroom. The participants in this study were 56 kindergarten students, who ranged in age from 5 to 6, and 18 of their parents. The majority of the participants were from middle- and lower middle-income families and the sample was ethnically homogenous. There was diversity in the educational and occupational backgrounds of the parent participants. The parents volunteered in the classroom for a period of five months from October to February. This study suggests that parents who volunteer in their children's classrooms can contribute significantly to children's learning. It is important to note that while random assignment of student participants to research groups helps to strengthen these results, the contribution of other variables needs to be examined to determine true causality.

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