Theses Doctoral

Parental Attitudes, Expectations and Practices During the School Year and Summer

Boulay, Matthew

This study builds on an emerging literature within the effects of schooling tradition by extending the seasonal perspective to a class-based investigation of parenting logics and home influence. Using data from qualitative interviews conducted over the course of a twelve-month period that includes both the school year and the summer months, this dissertation examines possible linkages between home influence and summer learning, and tests the longstanding assumption that home influence acts in a constant and continuous way throughout the year. In particular, I investigate the expectations and beliefs that parents hold for their children during the long summer break from schooling and examine how summertime expectations and family practices differ from those during the school year.
I find evidence that home influence changes across seasons, and that the availability of economic resources plays an important role in shaping seasonal change. Specifically, my data suggest that mothers’ attitudes and expectations vary by season, as do household rules around bedtime and screen time. I identify mechanisms that facilitate summer learning loss, including a “carry-over” effect, and I present evidence that the neighborhood context seems to take on outsize importance during the summer months. I also find that two sub-groups – children with disabilities and dual-custody families – seem to experience greater seasonal variation than the general population. My findings suggest the need to modify the assumption that home influence acts in a constant way and to develop a more precise understanding of home influence, one that takes into account the likelihood of seasonal variation, particularly by class and by subgroup.


  • thumnail for Boulay_columbia_0054D_12748.pdf Boulay_columbia_0054D_12748.pdf application/pdf 1.22 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Sociology and Education
Thesis Advisors
Pallas, Aaron M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 13, 2015