Haitian Adult Immigrants as Learners and Parents

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Haitian immigrant parents often face challenges to visibly engage in their children’s education in the United States due to social, cultural, and economic factors. This study addressed parent involvement (PI) among Haitian immigrant parents of adolescents in a Florida community. The purpose of this exploratory, multiple-case study was to better understand connections between immigrant Haitian parents’ beliefs and learning experiences and their experiences supporting their adolescents’ learning. Three research questions were developed to explore Haitian adults’ lived experiences and perceptions of themselves as keepers of knowledge and as learners, their experiences and perceived roles as parents, and the resources they possessed that could increase PI. The conceptual framework included social constructs of family literacy, new literacy studies, and funds of knowledge. Nine Haitian parents of teenage children and 3 educators and liaisons from the community were selected for interviews. Qualitative data analysis included open coding, theme identification, and triangulation of data from an archival PI survey. Findings indicated that adults’ experiences with learning at home and learning at school influenced their perceived parenting roles and self-efficacy at home, the type of PI in which they engaged, and future aspirations for their children. Results were used to develop a white paper aimed at community stakeholders to enhance educators’ and social service providers’ cultural knowledge of Haitian families and to promote two-way communication. The project may encourage the development of culturally responsive PI strategies and adult learning opportunities benefiting local and trans-national Haitian communities throughout the United States.

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