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5.4 SOCIOLOGY, Family studies
In modem Western society growing numbers of parents are employed in the labour market and while they work, parents and early years practitioners (EYPs) share responsibility for raising children. Attention to the quality of children's and families' experiences in these settings is increasing rapidly (Walsh, 2003; OECD, 2006). Parent involvement, has been identified as an indicator of quality, and the benefits that accrue from this involvement for children, parents and EYPs have been widely reported. Most parents are interested and want to be involved in their children's development, learning and education but how EYPs view parent involvement is an important factor in encouraging or discouraging their involvement. This exploratory study aimed to investigate EYPs' views on parent involvement. An additional aim was to identify the types and levels of involvement practised and to explore EYPs' views about what was needed to implement parent involvement. A link has established between highly trained, experienced personnel and parent involvement (Ginsberg & Hermann- Ginsberg, 2005) and this study also aimed to establish the qualifications, training and experience of the EYPs surveyed. Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological model was used as a theoretical framework as it demonstrates how influences not directly connected to children, such as interactions between parents and EYPs, may positively or negatively affect their development. The study was conducted in two stages, non-participant observations and data was gathered by means of a self-administered postal survey. Generally, positive views about parent involvement were expressed, and while parents were involved in joint decision-making about individual children, they were not involved as full partners as described by Pugh & De'Ath (1987). Many of the practitioners confirmed they held qualifications but there was a wide diversity in the type and level of these qualifications. In addition, a minority had training to involve parents. Evidence from the data would lead to the conclusion that EYPs had a traditional understanding of parent involvement and were unaware of what working in partnership entailed.
McDermott, M.: Early Childhood Staff's Understandings and Practices of Parent Involvement in Private Early Childhood Services: an Exploratory Study. Masters Thesis. Dublin Institute of Technology, 2010.