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Role of parents’ education and involvement in enhancing the experiences of early childhood education

Abstract

The present research investigates role of parents’ education and involvement in enhancing the experiences of early childhood education. The other dimension the present research seeks to explore is what teacher responsibilities are important in promoting positive early childhood education and what teaching strategies are effective. An early childhood education school was chosen as research site and semi-structured interviews of 2 parents and a teacher were conducted. The findings reveal that parents’ education helps children acquire content as well as other types of knowledge. Teachers’ responsibilities are to understand psychological and classroom needs of children that should be considered with their individual ways. Democratic classroom are important for positive contribution. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic aids are important to make children learn. However, visual aids are the most important of the three.

1. Introduction

The present research study is a qualitative inquiry into the domain of early childhood studies. The area within early childhood studies that the present research aims to investigate is two-fold. The one dimension that the present research aims to explore is that of the impact of the parents’ education and involvement in a child’s early years’ education. What impact parents’ involvement has on early childhood education is one of the most critical areas when it comes to effective childhood nourishment. The other area of investigation is that of the role played by the teachers in the development and enhancement of early childhood experiences. This area is further divided into two parts. One is to investigate the responsibilities that early childhood education teachers have on their shoulder to increase a little child’s positive learning experiences and the other (closely related to the former) is that what strategies can be found to be useful in meeting the first goal. These two major areas within early childhood education were selected for quite a few reasons. First and foremost is that the present researcher finds it personally necessary to explore these areas because of being student of early childhood education, and because the present researcher has worked as nursery assistant in the past; and, most of all, the present researcher loves to work in early childhood area. Besides these reasons, it is also found that the present body of empirical research identifies these two areas to be highly important in the growth of children into sensible and productive citizens of a country. It is this starting point that the present qualitative research is conducted. The qualitative paradigm was chosen because of the nature of the research which was to look for underlying patterns of parental involvement and teaching practices in a specific school of repute in early childhood education. Because quantitative research was of no great use in addressing the research focus, qualitative research was chosen.

1.2 Background of the Research

According to Neuman and Bennett (2001) it is in the twenty-first century that the area of early childhood education has picked up immense importance due to numerous advantages that have been reported to be the results of better childhood education. It is now in the industrially advanced countries, today, that more and more emphasis in being placed on the quality of early childhood education. Several developmental advantages have led these countries to accentuate “rapid expansion of early childhood services” and the quality of these services. Today much greater attention is being placed on the dynamics of different social actors whose help and support can build on betterment of early childhood education; henceforth, parent’s involvement and support, their education and awareness of their child’s educational and developmental needs are also brought into clear focus today. Similar, there is serious consideration being paid to introduction, monitoring, successfully running different programs for early childhood education. This is related to those involved inside the whole activity (teachers and administrators in specific) and those who are outside this circle but hold important position: the public investment in the entire system of early childhood education in a country. Present day research has revealed that there are three most important areas from which early childhood education policies have emerged. First is the body of research that suggests that the better the early childhood education, the higher their short-term social, cognitive, and emotional development would be. This would also positively affect their education, social, and workplace life in the longer run. Better teaching services is also linked to this area. Secondly, the concerns for equality have led policy makers form policies that can help children from low-income background to steadfastly grow academically, socially, and financially. The third of these major areas is to help parents cope up with their family and work responsibilities. This need has asked form reliable, affordable and helpful early care so that parents, especially mothers, can come to enjoy economic independence which would in turn affect a child’s growth positively. Technically, parents’ role, teachers’ responsibilities, and teaching strategies have been found to be the three areas (with a few more) that need more and more research which can benefit childhood education as well as help form more mature policies (p. 246). Parents’ role is considered pivotal because it serves as a bridge between home-based guidance and school teaching (Peterson et al., 2002, p. 1).

2.2 Aims and Objectives of Research

As more and more emphasis is being placed in early childhood education and studies worldwide, newer and more critical areas of research have emerged. In both the direction, there is need for more research both qualitatively and quantitatively. It is especially in the technologically advanced countries that quality of education and parents’ roles have been identified to be the key elements for high-quality childhood education. As my personal background, my work experience as nursery assistance, and being a student of early childhood studies, I have not only read extensively on this issue but have also gained experience that these areas really benefit. Moreover, I closely observed my cousin going through early childhood education. He was a bright student; however, there was his classmate Charles (assumed name) who was not bright. I often thought of the mature life that Charles was going to lead. This thinking led me to renew my interest in parents’ role, teachers’ responsibilities, and teaching strategies that can be combined to help dynamically grow children like Charles. Thus, the aims and objectives of this small-scale qualitative research study is to find out what teaching responsibilities can help children develop in early education stage; what responsibilities of parents can add to this goal, and what are the teaching strategies (techniques) that can make these children learn in the classroom (and away) in a way in which they can benefit as much as other, brighter children do.

2.3 Research Questions

The present research study aims to find answers to the following research questions:

  1. What role does parents’ education/empowerment play in early childhood education?
  2. What are the important responsibilities of the teacher to make Early Childhood Education more effective?
  3. What are different teaching strategies by which early childhood education can be made more effective?

2.4 Justification for Research

It is partly because of my personal interest, experience, and training in the above noted areas that I would like to conduct this research to go through a personal experience of real-life learning in these three areas. However, the research areas that I want to explore through this study are also significant for policy and decision-making purposes not only for the school (my research site) from where I have collected my data but also for a national level because as I move upward on academic ladder, I would like to broaden the scale of this very study.

2.5 Limitations of the Study

As this is a small-scale research study, certain limitation occurred in terms of time and resources. Due to these limitations the size of data collection, and data analysis was kept to a moderate number where useful insights could be generated keeping within the limitations of the research. Henceforth, the present research study follow the research design of that of convenient research sampling where one early childhood education school was chosen as a site and small number of parents and teachers were interviewed.

2. Literature Review

The present literature review is thematically organized. It looks into three areas of early childhood education: role of parents’ education in early childhood, teacher’s responsibilities in early childhood education, and effective teaching strategies in this very area.

2.1 Parents’ Role in Early Childhood Education

Parents’ role in early childhood has been reviewed in connection with development in this area. According to Sheridan & Schuster (2001), early childhood education has become a buzzword in a number of countries today; however, there is limited knowledge about its actual quality in terms of pedagogical processes and parental involvement is. Hence, more research is needed. In this regard, Curtis & O'Hagan (2003) state that parents are first care-givers to the child, as such it is highly imperative to involve parents in the child’s early education. Good relationship with the child’s parents, their partnership are a prerequisite for better early childhood education not only because parents have a right to know how their child’s learning is taking place but because by partnering with parents, early childhood education can be benefited in a number of ways. They further state that parents’ involvement is not a new concept as the earliest literature on this area dates as back into the past as 1860 from Margaret McMillan who emphasized on mothers’ participation to manage early childhood schools. The author also note other proponents of parents’ participation in early childhood education as Douglas in 1964 shed light on parental attitude toward the child’s early years’ of education; the Plowden Report in 1967 further stressed the need for partnering with parents by giving more and more information to parents about their child’s progress. However, it was in the early 1960s that the commencement of Pre-school Playgroup Association gave way to parent-based groups to work for better childhood education. Moreover, the Education Act in 1988 introduced the concept of “parent-governors into the management of schools in the expectation that such involvement would encourage more parents to participate” (p. 100). Similarly, in 1982 Mittler and Mittler are reported to point out the area of mutual respect and responsibility to take place between parents and professionals for better childhood education; Pugh and De’Ath in 1989 are said to add to this concept by stating that parent-teacher relationship is that of exchanging respect, skills, responsibility, decision making, and so on. This model continued for long until a research report “Playgroups in Changing World” by Department of Health was published in 1990. The document revealed that up to then parents’ involvement was just a surface idea where parents were involved only in play sessions twice a week and that it was more the mothers from non-rural areas seen as involved. Managerial role of parents, however, was seen as important. But this report accentuated that a parent must ask themselves “Am I really involved” in my child’s early years’ education, and other such questions and find answers to these for effective results. Thus, recent efforts like “Good Practice in Childcare No. 12” published in 2000 devote whole chapters to emphasize real parent’s involvement, that is, parents’ role is seen a dynamic contribution to a child’s learning from when the child is brought to school to giving ideas to improve learning conditions, management, fundraising, and so forth; this is the concept of consumerism and is seen plausible; however, still this concept is “fraught with problems in practice” because there are conflicting views found among expert educationists and common people about parents’ role in early childhood education (pp. 100-106).

Different programs to empower parents have been introduced in the United States and elsewhere. However, Wagner at el. (2002) investigated the effects of outreach programs like Parents as Teachers (PAT) in low-income parents. The authors found that such home visiting programs has less effectiveness and their research is consistent with previous research which suggests that there is a lack of dialogue in many parenting programs. Although these programs focused on parents’ behavior change, the difficulty arises from the fact that parental behaviors are a complex phenomenon and hard to change because of a number of factors like culture, family background, parents’ unwillingness to change, etc. Thus, the ineffectiveness of programs like PAT lies in these deep-rooted factors which must be addressed by future research (p. 64). Moving along, Mcintyre and Phaneuf (2007) state that there are quite a few models of parent involvement in their child(ren)’s early education. The child can be from normal to especial. However, the needs to educate parent to get involved in their child(ren)’s education is highly important. In this regard, the authors first list the Self-Administered model. This model is effective in conditions where parents have difficulty in participating in a program through traditional ways. In this mode, parents are provided with literature, materials containing audiovisual aids, and/or computer-based knowledge. This model has been investigated and some researchers, according to the authors, report it to be as effective as directly-offered programs. However, other researchers have found this model to be ineffective as compared to programs like group discussion with videotape programs. Thus, this program needs additional help from professional to be adequately effective. This search leads us to other models. Hence, the authors state that group-based programs to educate and empower parents for their child’s early years’ education are also there. These programs offer small groups of parents (8 to 12 parents) to receive guidance from professionals in a number of areas. Although these programs involve more resources, they are more effective and cost-saving when it comes to higher rate of assistance and participation available to parents. However, this program also lacks in certain areas as not all parents benefit from it. Further, the author comment on individually administered programs that bring with them numerous advantages as compared to the above two. Some of them are flexible schedules and individual-centered content. However, this program has a great disadvantage of being highly costly. Moreover, these programs lack social support which is a plus in group-based programs. Also, some families have been reported to have needed far more time in this model than those in other programs. The authors investigated the effects of three-tier programs in comparison with these three models. Three-tire programs, aim to improve parental awareness from least to most level of intervention. This program attends to parental needs for early childhood education at different stages catering to diverse needs. However, all these programs need further investigation and have their advantages and disadvantages (pp. 2144+).

Thus, in the words of Rodd (2006), we can say that up to now the focus on the roles of parents in early childhood education programs has been in three major areas. One is that of partnership in which the major emphasis is laid on the upbringing of child with a co-raring philosophy; two, the concept of continuity, that is, “the promotion of consistency between the conditions and experience of setting and home”; and the third is parent education which focuses on improving educational status of parents so that a child can be better nourished as well as this learning can be enjoyed by parents. However, today, with the understanding that parents are the expert on their child, it is more important that communication between staff (or professionals) and parents should take a focus in which both ends understand each other before and while approaching to try to solve a problem in a child’s learning: the author coins this relationship as the “collaborative parent-practitioner relationships” which can benefit the child, the parents, the practitioner, and the services (pp. 222-231).

2.2 Teachers’ Role in Early Childhood Education

When it comes to quality education in early childhood studies, it is the teachers that are referred to on the first place as to be the major source of meeting high-quality standards. In this view, there are quite a few models and theories that exist. However, the one that is more striking because of its practicality is that of, according to Grey (1999), vision. A vision of quality education in early childhood is not policies, regulations, or anything introduced by government or educational ministries; it is a realistic, focused-on-future, credible, and an attractive outline of the future the companies all the essential components into a whole to achieve the future target in a practical way. In this way, the author notes that for high-quality early childhood education, which is excellent when it comes to its outcomes, requires that parents, policy-forming institutions, schools, and teachers all have their important role to play. For teachers, the responsibility lies inside and outside the school. Inside because they have to teach children; outside because what they will teach children will remain with them their lifetime. Motivation, hence, is something that can strike a difference in the way a teacher approaches to teach little children. This view is supported by a recent study conducted in New Zealand. This study reveals that teachers’ morale plays a very important role in attaining high-quality education for early childhood education. The study also found that there are a number of factors that come to influence a teacher’s motivation or demotivation. For instance, the teachers who had been reported to have more job responsibilities, longer working hours, and other such hurdling factors, were not highly motivated and so it was a factor that can be regarded as critical when it comes to high-quality early childhood education. The study reveals that it is important to have clear and well-defined dialogue with teachers about their work condition and how they feel while working. The best way to approach this strategy is teamwork (Deakins, 2007, p. 38).

According to Smith (2007) teacher’s role in early childhood education in terms of their attitude, education, responsibilities, and so on is seen as something very significant in relation to the intellectual, social, and economical growth of little children who are the future runners of a country. Major responsibilities of early childhood education teachers are ingrained in the fabric of society as they have the responsibility to recognize children’s rights and to harmonize their practices with these rights. These practices include their constant attempts to monitor education system, policies, and how they impact individual children. According to the author, today is the time of child advocacy in which the child remains the center of all activities taking place in the domain of early childhood education. By child advocacy Smith means that the teachers should be aware of the fact that they have to increase the children’s self-esteem, and -determination; they are also to be responsive to the policy-institutions and to hold them responsible for anything that stands in between their practices and the child. Hence, looked at from this perspective, the teachers have dual roles to play: one, they have to ensure to address the rights of the child under their guidance; two, they have to educate “government and local agencies” about what is required. This way the early childhood education should be seen in the twenty-first century so that the future generation is equipped with required set of skills and mindset.

Stating the teachers’ responsibilities in early childhood education, Mccay and Keyes (2001) emphasize that teachers’ major responsibility in early childhood education is that of developing in children the social competence, that is, the teachers’ must inculcate in their students skills of social interaction, interpersonal skills, ways of how to approach life from the viewpoint of societal requirements that take into account needs and wants of other people around an individual. According to the authors, on a priority list in early childhood education, teaching children the skills of social competence comes first. They support their argument from the immense body of literature that shows that it is the social competence that eventually helps children do well in other domains of education and life. Some of the areas that benefit directly from this viewpoint are given as the “overall cognitive development” (Vygotsky) of children that makes possible their learning steady with social process; more recently, resiliency, better performance in academic domains, and career growth and development. On the other hand, the student who lacked healthy social skills have been reported to be delinquent, school dropouts, who later in their adolescence committed to substance mistreatment. The authors also discuss research that suggests that these children “are considered that single best predictor of mental health problems in adulthood”. According to the authors, the most critical age group in need of special attention to develop social competence is that of 6-8 years. It is because at this age students not only face a “cognitive shift” but that they also feel an urge to fit themselves in the social fabric of life around them, like school and neighborhood committing to their first friendships. It is this stage also where children are still away from negative behavior; hence it is the teachers who can make a difference in their life if they understand their responsibility of making students feel successful in the daily-life social interactions and tasks. Inclusion, hence, is the best strategy by which these goals of early childhood education can be best served. The authors list five major areas of social competence: “independence, assertiveness, social sensitivity, friendship building, and social problem solving”. These goals, when addressed adequately by teachers, can bring pivotal change in lives of little children.

According to Goodfellow (2001), it is essential for teachers to feel for the little children they are teaching if they really want to make a difference in terms of quality education that can make these children substantial contribution in the national mainstream. How teachers can attain this goal is through listening the little children. The author states that this is a metaphor which actually means to approach learners in early childhood classroom in a way that there is “totality of reciprocal and responsive relationships with children”. When teachers are able to form reciprocal relationship with their little students, it means that pay adequate attention to the individual differences of the children, their feelings, and their experiences in the classroom. By monitoring these, the teacher will become able to make “professional judgments”, that is to say, they will be able to point out the areas in which a child or different children need their support with regard to both learning needs as well as the needs which are social, practical, and so forth. However, what is important for teachers is that “They must be open to the children and display an ability to respond to each child's initiations with a sense of passion” (p. 1). Once, they are on this track, there is no doubt that the children will feel high-level of confidence and motivation which will result in high-quality learning.

2.3 Effective Teaching Strategies for Early Childhood Education

Grossman and Williston (2002) state that in making sure for the high-quality education in the initial years of a child’s education the teacher plays the most important part with regard to what they do in the classroom and how they do it. There has always been a need that educators model their practices on the best observed practices so that in turn the students will observe their practices and will base their life practices on these models. The important point according to the authors is that high care must be taken when it comes to the training of early childhood education teachers. If these teachers are required to make the use of best teaching strategies, it is important that these teachers are taught on the model of such teaching practices; otherwise it is very gray to expect these teachers to practice something which they might not have been taught. To meet this goal, the authors suggests that the early childhood education teachers, as students, must have “well-planned laboratory experiences under the supervision of experienced and qualified teachers of young children” and that these “experiences should include observation, participation, student teaching, and seminar discussion”. Moreover, it is important for these students to experience teaching in the field before they can actually embark on the journey of early childhood education. It is because if the academic knowledge means cognitive growth of the students, field experiences would mean that they can find where they stand between theory and practice.

With regard to children’s learning stress, their study pressure, and their lack of absorbing what is being taught, Hatch (2002) point out that there are quite a few effective strategies that the teachers can make use of in brining good results for all these and other related issues. For instance, it is important for teachers in early childhood to note that different children grow at different rates and in different direction cognitively, socially, and academically. Children show these manifestations because they are diverse individuals. Some young learners show readiness to accept challenges; while others do not. Henceforth, it is important to note that if same standards of teaching, evaluating, and appraising are kept for these children, it is most likely that some of the children in a classroom will fail in some stages while other will not do well in some other areas of requirement. These considerations are highly significant for a teacher to make use of teaching strategies. If a teacher does not have an idea of these issues, it is possible that their teaching strategies will be random. Furthermore, effective teaching strategies make use of ways in which failure is not the part of the game. It is due to the fact that fear to fail stresses even the brightest of the children. Hence, the basic and the most effective teaching strategy, according to the author, is to make learning a stress-free, comfortable experience for a child so that the child can show actual growth which is their inside self. It is also not feasible to put pressure on the early childhood teachers because this will result in their stress which will be evident in their practices eventually affecting classroom practices (p. 457).

Kato and Meeteren (2008) state that teaching strategies in which children are taught through physical knowledge is not only supported by experimental research of Piaget’s theory of constructivism but that it is also effective because young children show great interest and enthusiasm by getting into knowledge through physical experience. Research shows physical experience of learning is “essential for young children’s construction of knowledge”. There are three types knowledge that are listed by these researchers: social knowledge, physical knowledge, and logico-mathematical knowledge. Although all these kinds of knowledge are inseparable from each other, it is the physical knowledge that can be focused more with little children because these are appropriate for their age (a time when they are physically learning to grow in almost every aspect). When children are taught through physical knowledge perspective, they are more likely to “come up with their own ideas about objects and test these ideas in the real world”. The most beneficial aspect of this strategy is that in a physical contact with objects and stations, children have to naturally confront the possibility of failure which in turn sharpens their skills of employing strategies that can save them from failures. This is where the effectiveness of this strategy lies. And this is what Piaget in 1973 called the “constructive errors” that the little children must make in the early stages so that they can reach the truth by consuming their time. Moving along the same line, it is notable that other classroom practice strategies also have been researched for their effectiveness. For example, Garbett and Tynan (2007) note that teachers’ should be made aware of different teaching strategies by which they can incorporate curriculum requirements in the early childhood education. Teachers can be taught how to tell stories to children by maintaining children’s motivation while at the same time keeping to the requirement.

3. Research Methodology

The present research study is primarily qualitative in nature as the tools and approach it takes to investigate the issues in this paper are qualitative. However, great care has been taken to ensure higher reliability of this research in terms of sampling, data collection, and data analysis. None the less, the care has been taken as much as the limitations of time and resources as well as the scale of the research allowed. I chose qualitative research for this study because I was interested in the underlying patterns of parents and teachers involvement in making the early childhood education a rewarding experience for the child, school, and parents. This inquiry was only possible if I could see what some parents and some teachers do with little children. This study then required me to take data from such sources as can enable me to look into my area of inquiry from this standpoint. Therefore, I chose to base my research on qualitative research paradigm so that this paradigm can help me, through its established methods like interviews and observation, reach to the issues that I am looking forward to exploring. Qualitative research also suited to this study because I was trying to unfold human actions in education, one of the most important areas of social sciences. According to Darlington and Scott (2002) qualitative research is especially helpful when a researcher wishes to explore human services in such areas as education, tourism, marketing, management, and so on (pp. 1-3). Therefore, it was this rationale behind my choosing the qualitative paradigm that enabled me to opt for data collection techniques such as survey interviews and literature review. I reached this decision because of certain factors that I discuss below.

3.1 Research Site

I chose a private school as my research site for conducting this research. There were three reasons for this selection. One was that this school had a reputation of being of the most prestigious early childhood education school in the given proximity. Two, it was, fortunately, possible for me to make my entry possible into the school because I have some acquaintance working in that school. The third reason for selecting this school as research site was that it was practically possible for me to pay various visits to this school during my research. Overall, then, the research site was a purposive sampling plus convenient sampling. It had a number of advantages for me.

3.2 Sampling

The research sampling was purposive. According to Grinnell and Unrau (2005), purposive sampling enables the researcher to select each sample with a specific purpose in mind. It is because of the research aims that the researcher has in mind; also, a sample is selectd because it is unique in some areas among a large number of samples (pp. 165-166). Thus, I selected 3 teachers and 2 parents. All these five have had a reputation in school for their higher contribution in teaching and parenting respectively. Moreover, during my research I conducted some informal interviews to get the feel of my research area and that how I can proceed feasibly in the right direction without losing time and data as well. Informal interview was first with a senior teacher to know about the best teachers and then interviewed other teachers. It was afterward revealed that the 3 teachers and the 2 parents that I eventually selected for my research were the best because I considered that they could lend me useful insight due to being best at early childhood studies in their own places. For informal interview, the rationale was that it enabled me to “to find out what people think and how the views of one individual compare with those of another” and also to create an air of familiarity and ease with my presence (Wallen & Fraenkel, 2002, p. 441).

3.3 Interview

Selecting an interview method was a task of great care and practical calculation. The interview method that I had to choose was designed to record the reflection or the selected parents and teachers underlying their practices within the context of the research site. Originally my plan was to conduct face-to-face semi-structured interviews with my sample population. However, there came to stand some time constraints in this plan of mine. When I tried to locate the teachers, they were not able to lend me time when I was free; and when they were free, I was busy in my studies; it was with two of the three teachers selected. The third teacher was already on study leave so I just heard of her and it was not possible for me to interview her in any case. The case with the parents subjects was another matter that brought practical considerations for me. The 2 parents were very busy in their jobs and so could not take out some time for me to be interviewed. Again, when they were available (that was when they came to pick an drop their children and while getting engaged in some contribution), it was not possible for me to take out time from my busy study-centered schedule. Henceforth, I sat down for a long while to work out the best method that could yield the information that I needed from my sample without creating any problem for them. Thus, I chose to mail them semi-structured interview questionnaire so that they could fill it up in their free time and could mail me back. I gave them time of 4 to 5 days so that they could fill it up with ease without getting disturbed by short time which might have confused their responses. I chose semi-structured technique for the questionnaire because it was most suited to my research design. I had already acquired some knowledge about that school, the parents’ great effort in their children’s education, the teachers’ higher reputation for contributing to children’s learning. Moreover, the literature I reviewed and my personal experience and interest in the areas of parental and teachers’ contribution lent me the points that I wanted to further explore by interviewing these people. The design of the questionnaire was kept open-ended so that responses can be rich but focus on the major areas that emerged from the above reasons. Thus, it was semi-structured interview that was the most suitable research tool for my investigation (Gillham, 2005, p. 70).

3.4 Validity, Reliability, and Ethics

For ensuring higher validity and reliability, I undertook certain steps so that I could do as much as my scope of research could allow me for higher validity and reliability of the research. So, it was fir in terms of selecting the samples that I took great care. Informal interviewing in the beginning with experienced teachers, head of the school was one useful technique which led me to choose the sampled teachers. The same technique was applied for the selection of the parents. For interview questionnaires, I first re-visited my concepts, experience, and knowledge and then chose the semi-structured interview. The other technique was that I asked a classmate of mine to review that questionnaire to look for any biased or unethical points. Consulting all these techniques, I made the required changes in the questionnaires and mailed them to the parents and teachers. I did not ask them for any kind of guided answers so that responses remained as natural as possible. I assured them that their answers will be used only for my research and that their identity will be kept anonymous. I showed them necessary documents to let them know that I am a student in early childhood studies. It was after all these considerations that the questionnaires were sent to them. However, what is important to note that out of the 3 teachers selected, 1 returned the filled questionnaire; the other, at the last time of my data analysis, kept on saying that she was busy. Hence, I had to analyze the questionnaire from 1 teacher. However, both the parents returned the filled questionnaires which I analyzed accordingly that I discuss in the following sections respectively. (For questionnaire, see Appendix A.)

3.5 Analysis of Teacher’s Interview

According to the teacher’s responses, the major responsibilities of a teacher that could prove useful for a child’s early years’ education fall in psychological as well as professional domains. As for psychological domain, the teacher stated that enthusiasm for making difference in a child’s life is a must to be found in a teacher’s practices. This enthusiasm must be two-way: the one is for the teacher, and the other is, the teacher must be able to make children enthusiastic about learning. The other psychological factors stated by the teacher was that of building confidence in children so that they can become responsible citizens and productive professionals. The other part of the teacher’s response fell into the domain of classroom activities. According to her, the teacher must be professionally trained, have knowledge of how children’s individual personalities count and how they can be individually addressed for better learning. Else, a teacher must know how to communicate to children. The communication is to be clear and concise. As for teaching content to the children, the teacher should make use of “different types of learning method to acknowledge the differences in the children” (Teacher Interview, Appendix A, Answer to Q No. 1). The teacher emphasized on these two-domain responsibilities because she thinks that without these, a teacher cannot facilitate smooth and effective learning in children who need such teaching as much as possible. To the next response that teacher noted that using visual aids is the most effective strategy for teaching little children because it is the visual aids that help the children learn and remember the content. The reason the teacher gave for this is that what children see at early stages of their lives they tend to remember longer and better. Moreover, the teacher stated that this strategy is highly effective in all areas of a child’s learning needs. Further the teacher opined that although auditory and kinesthetic aids are also complementary to the visual, the latter are the most effective for early childhood education given the age-related learning ability of these children. According to the last response of the teacher, the theme that emerged is that the teacher must practice democratic teaching in the class. This means that the teacher should treat all the children as equals; her way of treatment should be friendly with them so that they feel at ease while in learning situations. The teacher should also keep a constant eye on the health and safety of the children because they need it most from elders; the last response is very interesting. According to the teacher, a teacher should learn from the children.

The responses of the teachers suggest that psychological as well as professional areas of teaching and the learners are the most important responsibilities of the teacher. Else, visual way of teaching is the most effective strategy for little children. Democratic environment of the class is necessary to make learning an effective experience for children. Analyzed as such, the teacher-response shows that the findings are consistent with the previous research. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic ways of teaching are more effective than trying to make children memorize different types of lessons. The overall analysis of the teacher’s response suggests that early childhood education is more about understanding children’s specific needs which center on their individual differences than focusing on content or learning material. The most effective psychological way is to build confidence in students. Thus, it is more about understanding the child-psychology.

3.6 Analysis of Parents’ Interviews

The two parents responded to first question in is very similar. Both the parents (of two different children though) regarded that parent’s education is very important. The reason given for this consideration is that an educated parent can effectively help improve her child’s knowledge as well as the parent can positively influence the child at the early stage. I wanted to see their response about the kind of education that a parent has which helps most a child. The response of one parent was blank. However, the other parent stated “reasonably higher” education (Appendix B, Interview A). The interpretation that comes from this statement is that higher education or master’s level of education with a parent helps her contribute more effectively to a child’s early age growth. Parent A stated that when a parent is highly education, she can influence that child in all areas of his/her life starting from childhood to adulthood. Moreover, the parent can help the child in learning preferences either they are of kinesthetic or auditory type. It is the education of the parents that helps decide the learning preferences of their child. Parent B stated that parents’ education brings motivation to the child. If we critically analyze the two responses, I believe that motivation is the point that both parents want to state in different words. To response four, Parent A said that a parent’s education helps the child in many ways from using different methods for the child’s effective learning to understanding her/his personality differences. An educated parent can feasibly recognize and acknowledge individual differences of her child and so facilitate their learning in different ways as suits them most. However, the response of Parent B to this question was almost similar though precise. This parent stated that a parent’s education helps the child to improve and gain more knowledge. Hence, both the responses of the parents suggest that education of a parent helps to boost up child’s learning and gaining more knowledge because the parent can understand their individual needs which means that an education parent will treat each of her child in a way that suits most to their individual differences. The response to the next question whether anything else other than a parent’s education counts toward a child’s early age learning, Parent A noted that an education parent is able to communicate effectively with the teacher of her child and so impacts that child more concretely. Additionally, such a parent can show the child informative TV documentaries and can brainstorm the child on a number of learning situations. Different learning sessions of this kind are the other-than-education factors that help the child most to learn efficiently. Parent B stated that an educated parent must make sure that content is taught to a child because in nursery a child is more into kinesthetic learning. Thus, by this way the parent can positively contribute to school learning by filling up the gap of her own responsibility at home. Now if we look at the two responses here, we find two different answers. One is that a parent can facilitate a child’s learning by bringing in other learning experiences for the child; whereas, the other stated that the parent should teach content to the child at home to fill the gap. As these two responses are highly different from each other, no conclusive remark can be added to them. However, it is easy to see that these are two different ways that have emerged from the data and so have improved our understanding that different educated parents employ different strategies to help their children learn effectively. None the less, it is important to note here that this differential area needs further investigation to quantify which claim (or may be both) are more practical and feasible. To the response to ask the parents if they could provide any additional information regarding an educated parent’s contribution to a child’s learning, Parent A stated that she was unaware of any such things as she had already provided enough information about the contribution that an educated parent makes to a child’s learning. However, Parent B had the response to this query as that an educated parent has the advantage of being able to train the child at home in basic education without any trouble.

Thus, if we critically examine the responses by both the parents, we can understand that both acknowledge that education with a parent is highly contributory to a child’s early-age learning. Whereas Parent A has diverse responses as she considered experiences other than content knowledge being equally important for a child’s learning, Parent B had more emphasis placed on content knowledge which means that some educated parents train their children in content knowledge as a high preference; other consider other factors also while training and educating their child. The finding of this type suggests that different educated parents have different strategies and ways of making use of their education for their children’s learning. It could also be the fact that their background, life experiences, and different life contexts have come to make them think in this way. Henceforth, what can be stated at this point is that though the empirical evidence suggests that different educated parents have different strategies for their children, it is important that this area should be further explored to investigate any other themes if any.

However, analysis of the response by both the parents clearly suggests that both agree to the high importance attached to the education of a parent because both state that an educated parent can bring positive experience in their child’s learning. Content knowledge, knowledge about the world, better communication, building on and adding to the learning a child get from school, and training the child in practically effective ways are some of the major findings that emerge from the above empirical analysis. However, it is important that all these areas must be explored further with larger sample size and more research sites so that greater reliability can be obtained which can help teachers, parents, policy makers, and the children alike in more authentic way. It does not mean that the data and its analysis in the present research is not authentic; what is the case in the present research is that it can be generalized only to the small population from where the data was selected. The present writer does feel the need to expand the sample and data of this study into a larger and deeper study to investigate the issue more thoroughly.

4. Results and Findings

Early childhood education is one of the most critical areas of educational policy-making in today’s world, especially in the industrially advanced countries because of the fact that growing body of research, demands from different stakeholders, and need to produce higher competitive professionals have proved that the better the early childhood education, the better the future chances of growth for a country would be. It is this standpoint today that compels more and more countries to put effort to improve their early childhood education system as good as possible so that they can have these little children to be highly contributory to their individual as well as national life. The present research has found that with this focus in view, countries like United States of American, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and so forth are keeping effort in three directions. One, is the teacher’s training. Different university programs, in-school training, and other such programs are being promoted for teacher’s better education and higher understanding of little children’s diverse need. The other area is the development of certain programs which can cater to the diverse needs of little children’s education in the early years of their lives. These programs are of diverse nature depending upon the contextual needs and the resources available to a country. The third and one the most equally critical area (on which even more emphasis is placed today) is that of parents’ involvement in the process of early childhood education. This area has received revised interest in today’s policy-formation because the present day body of empirical research, both quantitative and qualitative research, has repeatedly shown that parent’s involvement in her child’s early days’ education is so critical that it can change the whole dimension of a child’s future growth. Moreover, other areas within this areas have been recognized. These are how parents from low-income groups and communities can be motivated, prepared, and encouraged to get involved in their children’s education so that the child, the teacher, and the parent all can contribute and benefit from this practice. A number of different programs for this focus are in practice these days. The focal point in this area is that the parent’s must be involved in communication with the teachers and the school administration to see how their child is progressing and that when confronted with some issues, how parents, school administration, and parents can co-solve these issues. Other than communication, the parents are now seen an important components with regard to administrative decision-making. It is due to the fact that it the children for whom an administration makes decisions. Hence, as children are not capable enough to decide for them, it is the parents that can contribute more positively in this area. Looked at from this angle, the growing emphasis is placed in this direction so that better institutional decision-making can be made possible which focuses to benefit the child and the parents alike.

Besides these areas, other areas have also emerged. One of the important areas today is that there is more attention being paid to meet the diverse needs of those children who have some kind of learning disabilities. This area is seen as beneficial because if a child with some kind of learning disability can be encouraged to get higher level of early education, this very child can be doubtlessly the real asset for a country. To achieve this target different programs that focus on addressing different disabilities of children have been started which involve, again, the teachers, the children, and their parents to get a three-dimensional, more effective result.

The present research study was based on the above theoretical framework. The present research was interested in exploring the areas of parental involvement, teachers’ responsibilities, and teaching strategies so that it can be verified and known as to how these areas contribute to effective early childhood education. For this very purpose, other than secondary data analysis, the present research employed to interview three teachers and 2 parents. The empirical analysis of the responses that came from 1 teacher and 2 parents suggest that teachers’ most critical responsibilities are to address the psychological and classroom needs of the students in democratic way so that the children can learn efficiently. As far as the contribution of educated parents is concerned, it was found through this study that educated parents can bring more profound impact on their child’s learning in a number of ways which range from content or subject knowledge to other types of knowledge such as interpersonal skills, knowing and learning about different things of the world and so on. Because the sample size of the present research was convenient because of certain limitations of time and resources, the present research is unable to generalize the results of a wider population. However, it can be stated that the findings of the present research study are useful in informing early childhood education, administrative, and parental policymaking; it is also useful in pointing out to the agreement that the present research finds in relation to the existing body of literature of empirical studies done by different researchers in a number of diverse contexts. The present research study also lend useful basis to build ground for further research. The present writer is interested in expanding this research into the doctoral thesis because the present research deems that the findings, as explored on a broader level, can yield even more effective insight which can be beneficial for a number of purposes.

In the light of the findings of the present research, it is seen as important to recommend that the teachers of the early childhood programs must be aware that their responsibilities fall in two areas which are: understanding the psychological and classroom needs of little children. This finding can be used in different programs such as training the early childhood teachers in letting them realize that it is not the content knowledge or classroom management alone that is most critical; what is, however, more important is that the teacher must be able to understand individual differences of children in a way that she is able to find out ways by which she can address those individual needs to contribute positively to children’s growth. Another recommendation in the light of the present research is that parents’ involvement in their child’s process of education should be invited to be as much as possible. It is not only the already available research that agrees to this recommendation, but the present research also endorses this direction. This is due to the fact that parent’s involvement is important in brining in the three-dimensional change that starts from three direction: the policy formation (administration), teaching practices (classroom); and parents support (home). It is this three-dimensional model that the present research suggests is the solution to the future challenges in terms of higher knowledge, greater global skills in different areas, and further development of the human race. It is this model that should be further explored as to see in which effective direction it can be derived to yield more positive, feasible, and fruitful results which can contribute to children’s learning as children and adults, as well as prove highly contributory to the development of a country like that of the present researcher.

5. References

  • Curtis, A & O'Hagan, M 2003 Care and education in early childhood: A student's guide to theory and practice. London: Routledge Falmer, pp. 100-125.
  • Deakins, E 2007 “The role of meaningful dialogue in early childhood education leadership”. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 32, Iss. 1, pp. 38+.
  • Garbett, D & Tynan, B 2007 “Storytelling as a means of reflecting on the lived experience of making curriculum in teacher education”. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 32, Iss. 1, pp. 47+.
  • Goodfellow, J 2001 “The need to move beyond best practice in early childhood education”. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 26, Iss. 3. Publication Year: 2001, p. 1.
  • Grey, AE 1999 “A vision for quality in early childhood education”. Australian Journal of Early Childhood. Vol. 24. Iss. 3, p. 1.
  • Grossman, S, & Williston, J 2002 “Strategies for helping early childhood students learn appropriate teaching practices”. Childhood Education, Vol. 79, Iss. 2, pp. 103+
  • Hatch, JA 2002 “A special section on personalized instruction - accountability shovedown: Resisting the standards movement in early childhood education”. Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 83. Iss. 6, p. 457.
  • Kato, T, & Meeteren, BDV 2008 “Physical science in constructivist early childhood classrooms”. Childhood Education Vol. 84, Iss. 4. pp. 234+.
  • Mccay, LO, & Keyes, DW 2001 “Developing social competence in the inclusive primary classroom: The ability to promote social competence in inclusive settings is a critical teacher competency for a developmentally appropriately early childhood program”. Childhood Education, Vol. 78. Iss. 2, pp. 70+.
  • Mcintyre, LL, & Phaneuf, LK 2007 “A three-tier model of parent education in early childhood: Applying a problem-solving model”. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, Vol. 27, Iss. 4, 214+.
  • Neuman, MJ & Bennett, J 2001 “Early childhood in cross-national perspective - Starting strong: policy implications for early childhood education and care in the U.S.” Phi Delta Kappan. Vol. 83, Iss. 3, p. 246.
  • Peterson, SMP, Derby, KM, Berg, WK, & Horner, RH 2002. “Collaboration with families in the functional behavior assessment of and intervention for severe behavior problems”. Education & Treatment of Children. Vol. 25, Iss. 1, p. 5+.
  • Rodd, J 2006 Leadership in early childhood. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, pp. 210-235.
  • Sheridan, S & Schuster, KM 2001 “Evaluation of pedagogical quality in early childhood education: A cross-national perspective”. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, Vol. 16, Iss. 1, pp. 109+.
  • Smith, AB 2007 “Children's rights and early childhood education: Links to theory and advocacy”. Australian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol. 32, Iss. 3, pp. 1+.
  • Wagner, M, Spiker, D, & Linn, MI 2002 “The effectiveness of the parents as teachers program with low-income parents and children”. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, Vol. 22, Iss. 2, pp. 67+.
  • Darlington, Y & Scott, D 2002. Qualitative research in practice: Stories from the field. Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, pp. 1-25.
  • Grinnell, RM, & Unrau, YA 2005 Social work research and evaluation: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 150-175.
  • Wallen, NE, & Fraenkel, JR 2001 Educational research: A guide to the process. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 435-450.
  • Gillham , B 2005 Research interviewing: The range of techniques. Maidenhead: Open University Press, England, pp. 70-85.

Appendix A

Interview Questionnaire for Teacher

Please provide answers to the following questions in the given space.

  1. What are major responsibilities of a teacher in a child’s education?
    • Enthusiastic
    • Approachable and Assessable
    • Acknowledge children as an individual by valuing them
    • Building Confident in the children
    • Knowledgeable about the children
    • Give clear and concise information to them
    • Uses different types of learning method to acknowledge the differences in the children
  2. Why do you believe are these responsibilities major/important?
    • __________to facilitate smooth and concise learning that could help the children
  3. What are the most effective teaching strategies for a child’s early education?
    • _________Visual is the most effective because children tend to remember what they see
  4. In which areas of child learning do these strategies make highest contribution?
    • ________In all areas actually, from childhood to adult
  5. Are there other factors than teaching strategies? If yes, what are those?
    • ______there are auditory and kinesthetic but visual is the best for child
  6. Please provide any details/information regarding your experiences in relation to early childhood education that you believe are important.
    • _________You have to know how to treat the children equally and friendly, monitor their health and safety and finally learn from them

Appendix B

Interview Questionnaire for Parent A

Please provide answers to the following questions in the given space.

  1. How important is parent’s education in a child’s early years’ education?
    • __________This is very important because the parents can impact the knowledge on the child at the early age of their lives and influence the child.
  2. What kind of parent’s education helps children the most?
    • __________Parents that have a reasonably higher level of education
  3. In which areas of child learning does an educated parent make highest contribution?
    • _________In all areas, ranging from childhood to adult and irrespective of the child’s learning preference, either auditory or kinesthetic.
  4. What are some of the important strengths of an educated parent?
    • ________Impact knowledge on the child, facilitate teaching for the child, Uses different types of learning method to acknowledge the differences in the child, Facilitate the children’s’ interactions and encourage them to ask questions and learn from the child.
  5. Is there anything other than parent education that counts for a child’s learning?
    • _______other educations like helps from the teachers, TV documentaries, brain storming sessions etc
  6. Please provide any details/information about parent’s education in relation to early childhood education that you think is import
    • _______________________not that I know of

Interview Questionnaire for Parent B

Please provide answers to the following questions in the given space.

  1. How important is parent’s education in a child’s early years’ education?
    • ______________very important ____________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________
      ____________
  2. What kind of parent’s education helps children the most?
    • _________________________________________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________
      ____________
  3. In which areas of child learning does an educated parent make highest contribution?
    • ____parents education motivates the child
    • _________________________________________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________
      ____________
  4. What are some of the important strengths of an educated parent?
    • _______ability to help the child improve and gain more knowledge
    • _________________________________________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________
      ____________
  5. Is there anything other than parent education that counts for a child’s learning?
    • ___________it is better for parents to teach the child as nursery wont teach them nothing apart from how to play with toys so that’s where home teaching comes in
    • _________________________________________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________
      ____________
  6. Please provide any details/information about parent’s education in relation to early childhood education that you think is important.
    • ____________if the parents are educated it means they’d have no trouble in training the child basic education from home.
    • _________________________________________________________________
      ____________________________________________________________
      ____________

 

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