Latino focus group findings
Education: Our best legacy (Educación: Nuestra mejor herencia in Spanish) was created from the project team’s work with the Latino focus groups that took place within the Partnering for school success focus group effort. The findings from those focus groups showed that the six factors identified in Dr. Christenson’s research (expectations, structure, learning, support, relationships, relationships, and modeling) are indeed important in the Latino community. [For more information on Christenson's original research, see Research on the factors for school success.] Focus group participants also identified the three additional elements that Latino families need for their children to succeed in school. They need to know how to:
- Navigate the school system.
- Help their children graduate from high school and seek higher education.
- Achieve self-efficacy.
The parents in the focus groups stated that they prefer to acquire skills and information in classes with other parents. They felt that a class-like setting would offer more opportunities to interact with school staff and other parents. The focus groups also revealed that the classes would need to be offered in Spanish. Many parents in the focus groups stated that not knowing English was a barrier to learning, particularly when there are no interpreters available to help them. In situations where their children have become the translators, parents reported a loss of empowerment and confidence. In many cases, significant information is lost by the time the information gets from the translator to the parents. It was concluded that parents would feel the most confidence and receive the most accurate information if facilitators taught the classes in Spanish, the parents’ first language.
In addition, focus groups revealed the need to give Latino parents a broader understanding of how to parent their children in the United States. Parents participating in the focus groups expressed a “thirst for knowledge” on how to help their children in the U.S. educational system and culture. This told the project team that it’s not enough for Latino parents to learn about the connection between parenting and school success — they need an educational program that is designed and implemented in a way that helps them learn how to parent their children in a new country.
For more information about what we did with these focus group findings, see the following resources.
About the development of the program — Explore how the Education: Our best legacy was developed and piloted, and what’s in store for the future.
Partnering for school success CYFAR project (PSS CYFAR) — Get more information about the Partnering for school success CYFAR project that focuses on Latino families.
Falling behind: Understanding the educational disparities faced by immigrant Latino students in the U.S. (PDF) — Explore this Children's Mental Health eReview from the Children, Youth & Families Consortium.