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FROM COOPERATION TO PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN PARENTS AND PRESCHOOL TEACHERS The 17th EECERA Annual conference Pirjo-Liisa Poikonen University of Jyväskylä, Finland (M. Kontoniemi, H. Rasku-Puttonen, M-K. Lerkkanen, A-M. Poikkeus)
Background • International research has consistantly found that good staff-parent relationships in early day care centers and schools benefit children, staff, and parents (e.g.Fantuzzo, McWayne, Perry & Childs 2004; Christenson 2004) • Finnish national guidelines (2000, 2003) emphasize parents involvement in early childhood education and partnership between parents and teachers
The transition to school is a period in which social supports are particularly important: successful transition plays an important role in later school success (e.g. Dunlop & Fabian 2002; Dockett & Perry 2003; Johansson 2002) • Finnish national quidelines (2000) emphasize smooth transition from preschool to school and cooperation between teachers
Partnership • consious commitment • combines the knowledge and experience • create a common strategy for supporting the child • cooperation between parents • staff have the primary responsibility for employing the partnership approach
The aims of the pilot study • What kind of experiences parents have about cooperation between preschool teachers and other parents? • What kind of cooperation do preschool teachers and parents emphasize in the transition from preschool to school?
Design and Methods • First Steps pilot study: 139 preschool children and their parents and teachers (mothers N=107, fathers N= 94, teachers N=16) • Participants were voluntarily selected from one municipality • Data were collected by questionnaires (structured/open questions) first time at October and second time at April • The analysis combines both quantitative and qualitative approaches
Results 1/2Parents’ experiences about cooperation • The three-factor solution (using principal Axis factoring) defined following constructs: • Experience of partnership • Child centered cooperation • Parents’ competence (perceptions of cooperation skills and attitudes)
Item content by factor(parents’ data) • Experience of partnership (Cronbach alfa: Mothers .63, Fathers .77) • ’I feel that I can influence the goals and objectives of my child’s classroom’ • ’I participate in decision-making of the whole preschool’ • ’I feel that my child’s teacher supports my parenthood’ • ’I feel that parents in my child’s classroom support me in childrearing’
Child centered cooperation (Cronbach alfa: Mothers .81, Fathers .75) • ’I draw up the individual preschool education plan for my child in collaboration with my child’s teacher’ • ’I talk with my child’s teacher about my child’s accomplishments’ • ’I regularly participate in acitivities of my child’s classroom’
Parents’ competence (Cronbach alfa: Mothers .62, Fathers .72) • ’I feel childrearing very stressful’ • ’I feel incompetent when I talk with my child’s teacher ’ • ’I hesitate to be in contact with my child’s teacher’ • ’I am not interested in cooperation with my child’s teacher’
Differences in perceptions and experiences between mothers and fathers • A statistically significant difference was found between mothers and fathers on all the items of child centered cooperation (p<.001). Mothers cooperated with teachers in most cases. • A statistically significant difference was found between mothers and fathers on one of the items of experience of partnership ’I feel that my child’s teacher supports my parenthood’ (p<.001).
Both mothers and fathers had positive views about their competence in parenthood and cooperation. A statistically significant difference between mothers and fathers was found: mothers were more interested in cooperation than fathers (p<.001).
Results 2/2Cooperation in transitionprocess • The two-factor solution (using principal Axis factoring) defined following constructs: • preschool-school cooperation (between teachers) • child-parent-school cooperation
The most important issues were(parents and teachers): • ’School teacher visits the preschool to talk to the preschool children about school’ • ’Written records (portfolio) about individual child’s experiences follow to the school’ • ’Before school starts preschool and school teachers held shared meetings with parents’
Implications and challenges • How to use the diversity of attitudes and views between parents and professionals as resource? • How to identify the partnership readiness of the parents? • How to confirm parent’s empowerment? • How to support collaboration between parents?
How to take care of practical organization and arrangements in ways that meet the wishes of both parties • Equal partnership demands teachers to change from professional focused culture to family-focused culture?
The joint aggreement about cooperation and activities between parents and teachers is needed in the transition to school