Gansu Survey of Children and Families Dissertations


"Old Man Moves a Mountain": Rural Parents' Involvement in their Children's Schooling

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Kong, Peggy. 2008. "Old Man Moves a Mountain": Rural Parents' Involvement in their Children's Schooling (Doctoral dissertation). Harvard University.


In China, policies and programs are currently being implemented to improve parent-school relationships. However, until this thesis, there has been little research conducted in rural China on the impact of parental involvement on their children's education. In this thesis. I use a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the nature of parental involvement in primary children's schooling in rural China. My study adds to the growing body of research that suggests that people in different cultures are involved in their children's schooling in different ways. I found that parents in rural China desired educational success for their children. They regarded education as a means to their children's gaining social mobility. However, few rural parents engaged in visible forms of parental involvement in their children's schools, such as attending parent-teacher meetings. Rural parents in my sample were caring, supportive, and had invisible ways of supporting their children's education. Their level of commitment to their children's schooling could be seen in the sacrifices they made, such as working at additional jobs or taking on additional household work so that their children could be free of household chores. Many rural parents sacrificed their free time in order to support their children's schooling. They also purchased schooling materials for their children, so that their children could enjoy a more positive schooling environment. In order to provide their children with better schooling opportunities, several families migrated to areas with better schooling conditions.


School administration, Elementary education, Individual & family studies, Parental involvement, Rural education, China, Parent involvement



Date Posted: 03 December 2009