DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Understanding the Role of Parents in their Child’s Development:

A Parent Interview





Charlene Gardner

Child Development EDUC 231-050

Medgar Evers College

Fall 2010

Doctor James Johnson






The positive sign or the word “pregnant” on a pregnancy test is the beginning of a new life for a woman and her family. Once reality sets in it is time to prepare. For some mothers it means changing their life styles in order to ensure that their child gets everything he or she needs. The expecting parents choose the names they like; wonder who he or she is going to look like; and what kind of personality he or she will have, but most importantly they hope for a healthy baby. Some are aware of the important role they will play throughout their child’s various stages of development; such as emotional, social and intellectual. To better understand the role of parents as pertaining to their child’s development one can conduct interviews with parents and record their findings. In order to complete this study, I conducted two interviews. The first interview was with a parent of a child with exceptional needs. This parent is referred to as Case Study A. The second interview that was conducted is with a parent of a child in the general education population. This parent is referred to as Case Study B.

Demographic Information of Case Study A

            Case Study A is a 52 year old mother who was born in the United States. She practices Buddhism presently but grew up as a Christian. Case study A only speaks English. Her current occupation is a life coach and she has been previously employed as a graphics designer. She shares her home with her husband and their two children; a son who is 14 years old and is in the eighth grade of a district 75 school, and a daughter who is 8 years old and is in the third grade inclusion class at PS 372. Unfortunately, both of their children have exceptional needs, but during the interview we discussed her daughter. The language of instruction at school is English.


Cultural Identity of Case Study A

            Case Study A’s father’s ethno cultural and religious background is American and Christian. Her mother’s ethno cultural and religious background is also American and Christian. The family of Case Study A identifies themselves as German-Irish-Americans. Case Study A said although she is Buddhist, she sometimes attends an interfaith church with her family.

            English is the only language Case Study A has ever spoken and it is the only language currently spoken by her family. Indeed English is the language spoken in the healthcare setting and is the language her daughter is literate in.

            There is more contact with the maternal side of the family than the fraternal side especially around the holidays. Case Study A is involved in her local chamber of commerce. Her daughter does chorus at an interfaith church once a week with some of her friends.  Case Study A’s daughter has always been very social but she only gets the opportunity to socialize with extended family around the holidays. Her daughter is very proud to be an American.

            Case Study A’s daughter has multicultural friends because she is very social. Due to her age and the fact that her parents have exposed her to different culture, she has not experience any sort of racism.

History and Description of Special Needs

            Case Study A’s daughter with exceptional needs has moderate reading difficulties and learning disabilities. Case Study A reports that her daughter’s first grade teacher was the first to notice that she had difficulty reading and recommended that they should have her tested. These disabilities interfere with her function of her everyday life because she is at least six months behind her grade as far as her reading. On the day of the interview Case Study A said “She stayed home from school today because she was having a difficult time with her reading and she begged me not to send her to school”.  Case Study A is very optimistic about her daughter. She believes with the proper help her daughter’s problem could be resolved. Case Study A feels that she is better equipped to deal with her daughter’s disability because unlike her son who was not diagnosed until he was 10 years old with severe dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), her daughter’s reading and learning disability was diagnosed when she was seven years old. She also said, “I do not have to deal with all of the emotional aspects because I already know what to expect”.

            Case study A’s daughter did not receive any special services until she was diagnosed.  Her learning disabilities are constant and she sometimes feels embarrassed. After her diagnosis she received an Individualize Education Program / Plan (IEP) and she now receives speech counseling and she sees a reading specialist at her school, but because case study one has already had some experience in what services were offered for a child with exceptional needs, her daughter has a Related Services Authorization (RSA) and receives addition services. She sees a speech pathologist twice a week after school. Case Study A’s values the opinions of the speech pathologist and her colleagues who recommended that she takes her daughter to see a neurologist and to an ophthalmologist because they found she was having problems focusing on the words.

            As I said before, Case Study A is very optimistic and she is very pleased with the services her child is receiving. Case Study A reports that when her daughter was tested they found that she had problems connecting the sounds of the words to their letters and decoding words. Now that she is receiving help from the speech pathologist who is also helping her to feel more confident about herself.

Past Medical History

Case Study A has not had any major illnesses, injuries, surgeries and she is not on any medication. The only time she was ever hospitalized was when she gave birth to her children. She reports that her husband, however, has a disability, he was who diagnosed with dyslexia in his twenties. The only family member on medication is her son for his ADHD. He takes 3omg of Vyvnase once a day.

Family History

As I mentioned before Case Study A shares her home with her husband and her two children. Case Study A’s and her husband’s mother and father are Americans. Her mother was the first of four children and her father was the third of five children. Her husband’s father is the only child and his mother is the last of seven children. Case Study A reports a good relationship with her parents but her husband does not have any relations with his father. She said, “After the death of her husband’s mother his father deserted the family and he and his siblings were placed into foster care.”

Case Study A and her husband met through mutual friends. She was 36 years old and he was 40 years old. Their marriage was not an arranged one and her family likes him. Neither of them had been married before nor did they have any children before they met. Case Study A said, “How ironic both my children have Biblical names and I practice Buddhism. My daughter’s name is Hanna and my son’s is Joshua.”




Social and Developmental History

Case Study A said, “Although I had two high risk pregnancies because of my age, I did not experience any problems in labor or delivery and I gave birth naturally.” She reports that her daughter met every milestone some earlier than others. Hanna was turning over by two months, crawling by five months, walking by eleven months and was saying words by twelve months. Hanna’s temperament has always been easy going and as she got older she became more sociable.

Educational History and Performance

Hanna has been attending preschool from the age of three and she was a well-rounded and happy to be in the school setting. She never had any problems making new friends due to her free spirit. At the age of five she entered the kindergarten program of her present school. Hanna’s first grade teacher realized that she had difficulties reading and writing but her math skills were average. Although Hanna is still behind her grade level, she has shown some improvement due to the help she is receiving. Hanna’s friends know of her disability and they are very understanding so therefore she is still very social.

Application of Child Development Theory for Case Study A

            Case Study A’s daughter, Hanna, is still at least three months behind her grade level with reading and she sometimes feels embarrassed although her friend are very understanding, so her speech pathologist is also helping her to build up her self-confidence as she goes through the Psychosocial Stage four– (Industry vs. Inferiority) of Erik Erikson stages of Psychosocial Development. 

            Hanna’s speech pathologist, reading specialist and Case Study A (more competent individuals) have assisted her in task such as decoding. According to Vygostky this is called scaffolding.

Demographic Information of Case Study B

            Case Study B is a 28 year old mother who was born in the United States.  She was born into Christianity but although she considers herself Christian, she is not affiliated with any church. Case Study B only speaks English and has never learnt another language. Presently she has two part time jobs one as a substitute teacher and the other as a recreational leader. She also wanted to add that she attends college as a part time student. She is a single mother who lives with her son. Case Study B’s son is eight years old and in the second grade at PS 329. The language of instruction is English.

Cultural Identity of Case Study B

            Case Study B’s father’s ethno cultural and religious background is African American and Christian. Her mother’s ethno cultural and religious background is also African American and Christian. Case Study B and her son’s ethno cultural and religious background are African America and Christian.

Although the United States is a very diverse place where numerous languages and dialects are spoken, especially in Brooklyn where Case Study B is from, she has only spoken English throughout her life. As I have stated before she only speaks English and her family has never spoken another language. Her son is only literate in English.

Case Study B is very family oriented and she spends as much time possible with her relatives. The only community organization Case Study B is involved in is the Brownsville Recreational Center where she works as a part time recreation leader. However, her son does not attend any kind of group activities with peers from his culture. He does have friends however, and enjoys spending time with his aunts and uncles. Case Study B said, “My son is very proud to be an African American.” Although he does not attend any group activities, he does have a number of friends from his ethno culture group. Case Study B’s son has not experienced any racism but she is sure that as he gets older he is going to because of the world we live in.

Past Medical History

            Case Study B has never had any major illnesses, injuries, surgeries and she is not on any medication. She does not have any disabilities and the only time she was ever hospitalized was when she gave birth to her son. Her son does not have any major illnesses, surgeries and he does not take any medication.

Family History

Case Study B, as I previously stated, shares her apartment with her son. She has uncles and aunts from both her mother’s and father’s sides of the family who live in the southern states of the United States. Case Study B’s mother and father were both born in the state of South Carolina. Her mother is the third of nine children and her father is the second of ten children. Her son’s father’s parents were both from Brooklyn. His father was the eldest of two children and his mother was the youngest of three. She has a very good relationship with her parents especially her father. Her son’s father lost his parents when he was 16 due to a car accident.

Case Study B and her son’s father met when she was 16 years old and he was 18 years old. They did not get married because her parents did not approve of their relationship because he was very unstable and they did not want their daughter to be exposed to that kind of relationship. Once she got pregnant, she chose to have the baby because of her Christian background. She said, “After I had the baby she broke up with him when my son was three months older, but he has always maintained a relationship with his son.” She added, “He went back to school and sort the proper help for his depression he suffered after the death of his parents.” Her son, Ervin, is named after his father. His father has another who is two years old.

Social and Developmental History

            Ervin is Case Study B’s biological child and she did not experience any problems during her pregnancy. Although she was in labor for 36 hours the delivery portion only took two hours. She recorded every developmental milestone of her son and said he met them all in a timely fashion. He turned over at three months, crawled at seven months, walked at twelve months and was saying “da-da” by nine months. She said, “He was slow to warm up to strangers as a baby and he is still like that to this day, but once he get to know you he is very outspoken.”

Educational History and Performance

            Case Study B’s son attend preschool at three years old where he was a shy little boy but once he got use to his classmates he became very social. He started kindergarten at five years old. He is now in the second grade where is favorite subject is math and he excels at it and his writing is at grade level but he needs help with his social skills and his reading is average. Case Study B wanted to add that her son plays the bass guitar even though he has never had a formal lesson and she is considering enrolling him in music lessons.


The Application of the Child Development Theory for Case Study B

            Case Study B’s son exhibits Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences where he states that “an individual may have one or more area of intelligence.” Because of his logical intelligence (mathematics) and in musical intelligence, this proves that he has multiple intelligences. According to Jean Piaget theories, Case Study B’s son is in the concrete operations stage of his life which occurs between ages seven through eleven. Piaget theory states “this is the stage where children begin to think logically; however, their cognitive development is not yet completed.  Case Study B’s son loves mathematics and he is very good when it comes to solving mathematical problems. However he is at the stage where he asks, “What do you think?” and “Did I get that problem right?”  This proves he is in the concrete operational stage as according to Piaget’s theory.

 Overall Summary

I have never interviewed anyone before, but I knew I had to in order to complete this assignment. Because I know a number of parents, the only thing I needed to do was ask them if I could interview them for my assignment. I told them what the assignment was and informed them that I would not be using their names in order to maintain their privacy. Once they said yes, I proceeded to begin my interviews.

As a teacher candidate, I believe that a good relationship between parents and the teachers can determine a child’s success throughout his or her education. Teachers need to understand their students’ background and there is no better person than the child and his or her parent to share this pertinent information with the teacher. These interviews have given me better insight to the relationship a parent has with his or her child. Indeed most parents are very willing to help anyone who has their child’s best interest at heart and they would share vital information if it means getting extra help for their child. Because Case Study A said, “It was a very emotional time for me when I first learnt of my son’s disabilities.” I as a teacher candidate would now always take that into consideration and be very sensitive to parents’ emotions.

It is common knowledge that children develop differently. Although they may be the same age, girls tend to develop faster than boys. These interviews have helped me to bridge different theories about a child’s development at the different stages of his or her life. As I interviewed the parents, I came to the conclusion that parents play a major role in their child’s development. Therefore as a teacher candidate, I should be approachable, so parents can feel comfortable as they express what goals they would like their child to accomplish. Moreover, if I noticed that a child is behind his or her developmental stages, I would be able to inform his or her parents expeditiously because of the relationship I have developed with the parent.






McDevitt, T.M., & Ormrod, J.E. (2004). Child development and education third edition. Pearson Prentice Hall


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.