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The involvement of immigrants in their children's education

Elizabeth Lay, MA student at the Faculty of Education Studies

Elizabeth Lay, a Master's student in International studies in education, sought inspiration for her final project from her own experience as an immigrant in Iceland. She explored the involvement of parents of immigrant teenagers in their children's education.

"Society expects immigrants to support their teenagers, who face challenges relating both to the rapid development children go through in adolescence and also to their position as immigrants. Both of these things affect their performance in school. I wanted to try to find out whether there was a link between the involvement of immigrants in their adolescent children's education and the recognised milestones these students meet, including learning Icelandic, finishing secondary school and adapting to society," Elizabeth says.

Elizabeth Lay

"I hope to detect a pattern that indicates the relationship between immigrants' involvement in the education of their teenage children and how well these parents have managed to adapt to Icelandic society."

Elizabeth Lay, MA student at the Faculty of Education Studies

Elizabeth is very familiar with the position of immigrants, since her parents were immigrants in the US and now she herself has moved to Iceland and started a family here. "The parents of teenagers are expected to participate in their education, but schools and parents have different expectations of what this participation will entail. I have noticed that parental involvement in children's education depends on socio-economic status, language proficiency, personal support systems and the degree of cultural difference in each case. My studies enable me to apply this interest I have in the position of immigrants for the purposes of science," she adds.

Elizabeth intends to investigate the subject by conducting a survey amongst immigrants as well as holding individual interviews with those who have teenage children. "I hope to detect a pattern that indicates the relationship between immigrants' involvement in the education of their teenage children and how well these parents have managed to adapt to Icelandic society. I also hope that the results of this research will raise awareness of the diversity of immigrants in Iceland," says Elizabeth, adding that the research is hugely significant since it is both important and useful for teachers in Iceland to understand the position of immigrants and their desire to encourage their children in their education, not least to strengthen the relationship between home and school.

Supervisor: Brynja Elísabeth Halldórsdóttir, lecturer at the Faculty of Education Studies.