Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family, Consumer, and Human Development


Kathleen W. Piercy


In the United States, educators, parents, policy makers, politicians, the media, researchers, and practitioners in many academic fields have taken an interest in outcomes for children aged 6 to 14 who participate in extracurricular activities outside of school time. Very little research examines parents' beliefs about and behaviors surrounding their children's participation in extracurricular activities. Yet, it may be parents' beliefs that guide choices about and persistence in extracurricular activities. This study used a phenomenonlogical and qualitative approach toward understanding parents' ideas and beliefs about their child's participation in extracurricular activities. These ideas and beliefs or parental ethnotheories are what parents believe are the correct or proper way to raise a child. Interviews with 11 parents of fourth and fifth graders at a university-based laboratory school indicated that parents thought strategically about their child's future. According to the parents, involvement in extracurricular activities produced socially adept children, who have "something in common" with other people, and are able to interact successfully with people of any age in as many different situations as possible. From this participation they sought to improve their child's social standing among peers, with adults, and in life in general. Parents structured and guided their child toward opportunities for growth and achievement through involvement in extracurricular activities. They believed that this involvement resulted in a "well rounded" child with a broad base of knowledge about the world. Parents believed these experiences would benefit their child in any future endeavors (college, careers, and family life).




This work made publicly available electronically on October 1, 2010.