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Mothers' Representations of the Role of Parents and Preschools in Promoting Children's Development

Author(s): Jessica Taisey Petrie | Susan D. Holloway

Journal: Early Childhood Research & Practice
ISSN 1524-5039

Volume: 8;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Mother-Child Relationship | Mothers | Parent Involvement | Parenting | Parent-Teacher Relationship | Parent-School Relationship

This qualitative study investigated mothers' views about their role in their children's education and their expectations of their child's preschool. A particular focus of the study was to contrast the views of mothers with differing degrees of parenting self-efficacy and to contrast the perceptions of working-class and middle-class mothers. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight working-class and eight middle-class mothers of preschool-age children. Most mothers were engaged in home learning activities that promoted academic skills. More working-class mothers than middle-class mothers reported they would not pressure their child to learn academic skills at home. Overall, the mothers viewed preschool primarily as a place for their child to gain social skills, and they put less emphasis on the academic aspects of preschool. While most of the mothers expressed their sense of challenge in providing effective discipline, only the mothers with lower efficacy expected the preschool to provide structure and discipline for their child. Working-class mothers reported more often interacting with the teachers informally in the classroom and in the context of community events organized by the preschool than middle-class mothers. Working-class mothers with low efficacy used the preschool staff as a source of support and advice in their parenting, as well as a source of social interaction, whereas the middle-class mothers relied on other sources of support. Overall, these findings suggest new ways of conceptualizing parent involvement in particular socioeconomic niches.

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