As the program's title indicates, a central operating principle of the program is that parent involvement is the critical socializing force in children's development. Direct parent involvement in the program is expected to enhance parent-child interactions, parent and child attachment to school, social support among parents, and consequently promote children's school readiness and social adjustment. The centers make substantial efforts to involve parents in the education of their children. At least one-half day per week of parent involvement in the program is required.
The unique feature of the parent program is the parent room, which is physically located in the center adjacent to the classrooms. The full-time parent-resource teacher organizes the parent room in order to implement parent educational activities, initiate interactions among parents, and foster parent-child interactions. With funds for materials, supplies, and speakers, areas of training include consumer education, nutrition, personal development, health and safety, and homemaking arts. Parents may also attend GED classes at the centers. Parent also serve on the School Advisory Council that assists staff in educational planning and implementation.
In addition to participating in parent room activities (e.g., arts & craft projects), parents volunteer in children's classrooms, go on class field trips, helping to prepare breakfasts and lunches, and engaging in education and training activities. Some examples include:
- Reading stories to small groups of children
- Changing the bulletin board
- Finishing activities begun by the teacher (e.g., a reading lesson)
- Arranging games for children who finish assignments early
- Assisting in the planning of field experiments
- Conducting science experiments with small groups
- Working on craft projects with children in the interest center
- Practicing math activities one-on-one or in small groups