Harding-DeKam, Jennifer L.
Lahman, Maria K. E.
Black, Linda Lutisha
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
In this qualitative study, the researcher explored the nature of Arabic mothers', who live in the United States involvement in their children's mathematics education. There is no data about this minority population as related to mathematics educational involvement since Arabic and Muslim women are scarcely represented in the educational research. Eighteen mothers participated in four focus groups, all agreed on the importance of mathematics and their involvement in their children's math education despite the fact that many of them had negative experiences learning mathematics, and were not familiar with the new teaching methods. These mothers became involved at home by helping with children's math homework; playing math games; motivating children; and providing them with comfortable atmospheres to study and do homework, and at school by volunteering, attending parent-teacher conferences, and communicating with math teachers. All of these mothers believed that their educational involvement resulted in many benefits for their children such as improving children's understanding and grades, easing struggling and frustration, improving study habits and parents' knowledge of child's learning, increasing family time, increasing parents' support, attention, and encouragement for the child, and increasing child's happiness and comfort. These mothers faced many challenges when they strove to become involved such as fear, math and new teaching methods' difficulties, difficulties dealing with teachers and school personnel, poor math instructions, gender differences, child's behavior, and standardized tests challenges. In addition, they faced some cultural related challenges such as their children feeling embarrassed by their hijab (head covering), and school students and personnel treating them differently. Thus, most of these mothers agreed on the importance of informing teachers and school personnel about their culture. These mothers had many different suggestions to teachers and school personnel in order to enhance their educational involvement and build cooperation between home and school such as inviting parents to school and to their children's classrooms, encouraging them to volunteer at their children's schools, welcoming and greeting them, teaching all students about other cultures different from the dominant culture, keeping communication open about their children's academic progress, teaching them new methods for teaching mathematics, encouraging and providing cultural activities, recognizing Eid (Islam's most reverent holiday), teaching Arabic in schools similar to Spanish and French, and offering math support to weak students. In addition, the use of the Critical Race Feminism focus group data collection method resulted in a dense quantity of rich data about the nature of Arabic mothers' involvement in their children's mathematics education, which provided the researcher with a clear understanding of these mothers own experiences, challenges, and perspectives in a relatively short period of time. The Critical Race Feminist theory provided room to fully appreciate these mothers' important role of their involvement in their children's education despite the enormous challenges they face as a minority group in this society. More studies are still needed in this important field in particular, the United States society is a multicultural one and the home culture should be taken in account in order to improve minority children's achievement. Specifically, the number of Arabic families in the United States has grown during the last two decades.
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