Date of Completion


Embargo Period



JoAnn L. Robinson, PhD; Beth Russell, PhD; Hannah B. Mudrick, PhD

Field of Study

Human Development and Family Studies


Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


For children from low-income families, parent school involvement can be a crucial protective factor that supports children’s cognitive and emotional development. The present study seeks to explore how maternal stress in early childhood is associated with mothers’ later school involvement and whether children’s internalized positive, disciplinary and negative maternal representations act as potential mediators of this relationship. Currently, little research has been done on the contextual factors influencing parent school involvement in early childhood and this study aims to fill this gap in the literature. The data included 169 children and mothers from low-income families. Mothers completed questionnaires designed to assess parenting stress and school involvement. Children completed story stem narratives. The results revealed that children of mothers reporting greater dysfunctional interactions with their child had fewer disciplinary representations in their stories. Also, mothers who were represented more negatively in the children’s stories reported higher levels of Home-School Conferencing. Moreover, mothers who reported higher levels of Parental Distress at The Parenting Stress Index Short-Form (PSI-SF) also reported higher levels of Home-School Conferencing at the Family Involvement Questionnaire (FIQ). These results support an ecological and multidimensional construct of mother’s school involvement. Interventions that target improved parent school involvement practices through addressing maternal stress and informed by children’s representations are needed.

Major Advisor

JoAnn L. Robinson, PhD