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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Education, beliefs, and experiences : examining the role of parents in children's extracurricular activity participation Ashbourne, Dianne


Several studies have suggested that extracurricular activity participation provides children with numerous benefits including higher academic achievement. Unfortunately, participation differences among Canadian children mean that not all children have equal access to these benefits. Understanding the role parents play in their children’s extracurricular activity participation will broaden understandings of participation differences among Canadian children and thus, will have important implications for mitigating inequality in the Canadian public school system. This study asks the following: what role do the beliefs, experiences, and education of parents play in determining whether their children participate in specialized athletics, music, language and leadership programs? Data used in this study were from the Paths on Life’s Way project at UBC; a longitudinal study of the graduating class of 1988 in British Columbia, Canada. Data were collected using postal surveys and face-to-face interviews. A mixed method approach utilizing sequential analysis procedures was employed. Interview data was used to guide the analysis of the survey data. Results suggest that both parental experience and parental beliefs play a role in school-age children’s participation in specialized athletics, music, language, and leadership programs to varying extents. Parents’ activity-specific beliefs are a particularly important determinant of children’s participation in extracurricular activities. Parental experience with extracurricular activities during high school are more significantly correlated with children’s extracurricular activity participation than current experiences, this highlights both the important role played by habitus and the complexity of the transfer of cultural capital between parents and their children. These relationships are stronger for parents with lower levels of educational attainment in nearly all cases except that of children’s participation in specialized language programs.

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