“They’Re My Investment”: Lower-Class Parents’ and Children’s Aspirations and Home Learning Environments

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 09:20
Oral Presentation
Cathlene HILLIER, University of Waterloo, Canada
Drawing on a photo-interview study of home reading practices with 27 children (ages 5-8) and interviews with 25 parents in Southwestern Ontario, this paper focuses on the perceptions that parents and children have about future education and how these understandings are translated into actions within the home learning environment. In particular, I examine the differences between lower-class parents with hopes that their child will graduate high school in contrast to those who encourage post-secondary education (PSE). Not surprisingly, interviews with children reveal that they are mostly unaware of future education or training requirements for the type of career they choose. However, child interviews, along with parents’ interviews, uncover the types of conversations about future education that do (or do not) occur at home. Children whose parents have high school graduation aspirations for them talk less about future education than children whose parents have PSE aspirations. If parents have PSE goals for their children, they feel that PSE is a way for their children to experience social mobility, job security and satisfaction with their career and lives. Also, they are more likely to have conversations about future education with their children and these parents display a more interconnected approach with their child’s education at school and at home. However, while more proactive, these families are heavily reliant on resources, information, and social connections provided by schools and the community. I conclude with policy recommendations on reaching students and parents earlier with career and post-secondary education experiences and information.