In this narrative inquiry, I examined parents’ stories to gain insight into their journey toward selecting a French Immersion Catholic stream of education for their Kindergarten-aged children. As a teacher, I first noticed a pronounced shift in the parents who were choosing Catholic French Immersion for their school-aged children and, then, as I formed close relationships with a diverse range of parents, I became cognizant that many families were deeply rooted in a faith other than that of Catholicism. With my curiosity piqued, I engaged in research to explore what these diverse parents believe Catholic French Immersion schools have to offer them. Utilizing both Joseph Schwab’s (1973) notion of curricular commonplaces and Allen’s (2007) web of caring as a framework for my research, I demonstrated how important it is that educators invite parent knowledge (Pushor, 2011, 2013) onto the school landscape as they attend to parents’ intentions in making particular school choices for their children.
Using a metaphor of painting, and to paint both individual stories and a triptych of stories to capture parents’ influences, thoughts, hopes and dreams for their children that led them to Catholic French Immersion, I chose narrative inquiry methodology. I utilized field texts gathered from three sets of parents, including stories, journals, field notes, letters, conversations, and family stories, to paint an intimate understanding of the research puzzle.
In terms of Catholic education, these families value a faith-based school environment but for different reasons. The Nelson family, rooted in Baptist faith, felt it was important that their child be schooled alongside other faithful children and also believed that Catholic schools inherently value the sanctity of each child. The Padrique family, newcomers to Canada, assumed that Catholic education would teach their child important values and that parents in the Catholic system would share parenting philosophies similar to their own. The Larocque family saw that through learning Catholic doctrine in school their children would be provided an opportunity to be exposed to, and to accept or reject, a system of beliefs not taught to their children at home.
In terms of French Immersion, the families understood that their children’s ability to speak French would enhance their employment opportunities in the future. Both the Nelsons and the Padriques further viewed French Immersion as a program choice for the more academically inclined. Similarly, the Larocques, whose children have Treaty Status, understood French Immersion as a more challenging program where children become accustomed to working hard. This research will help deepen educators’ understanding of parent motivations for choosing this stream of education and more fully attend in their practice to parent intentions and parent knowledge.