Effect of Parental Involvement on Perceptions of Physical Education


  • Anna Paulson Department of Physical Education, Exercise Science, & Wellness, Iowa Wesleyan University
  • Pamela Hodges Kulinna Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University
  • Hans van der Mars Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University




Middle School, attitudes, stakeholders


This study sought to address the large gap in the literature regarding parents’ roles and views about physical education programs. Guided by Epstein’s model of parental involvement, this study investigated the effect of increased parental involvement in a child’s physical education program on parents’ perceptions of that program. Participants included 31 parents (28 female, 3 male) of students enrolled in fifth- through eighth-grade physical education classes at a school in the Southwestern United States. The design employed was a pre–post mixed-methods design. Over 6 weeks, the physical education teacher increased communication with parents through twice-weekly newsletters, weekly emails, family homework assignments, and family physical activities. Parents completed three validated surveys and open-ended questions, while the teacher kept field notes across the intervention. Parents increased their positive views of physical education, communication with teachers, and ideas about the importance of the field as well as their perceptions of their connections with physical education and ability to support their students in developing healthy lifestyle behaviors. Four themes emerged from the data including (a) lifetime physical activity, (b) socialization, (c) immediate benefits of physical education, and (d) parental support. The results of this study suggest that regular, open parent–teacher communication regarding physical education programming plays an important role in promoting the field. Extra effort by teachers in facilitating opportunities for parental engagement led to more positive perceptions and value of the physical education program by parents. This investment of teacher time is essential for maintaining positive parents’ and students’ perceptions of quality physical education programming and creating more partners and advocates for the field.