The importance of parental involvement with the early years setting perspective of early years practitioners.
The great majority of parents are concerned to do their best for their children, even if they are not always sure what this might be. (Pugh & De’Ath, 1984). Therefore, it is vital that parents are encouraged to participate by early years practitioners, in order to facilitate and enhance their understanding of their child’s overall development (Bruce, 2009). This thesis examines and outlines the findings from a research study carried out to explore the importance of parental involvement within the early years through the perspective of the early years practitioner. The main aim of the study was to highlight the opinions that early years practitioners have in relation to parental involvement within the early years and to explore the barriers and the benefits of said involvement. The study was conducted by manner of qualitative research and the data collection method that was employed was carried out by means of semi-structured interviews. The interviews were carried out with five early years’ practitioners, all subsequently practicing in five separate early years centres. The five participants that were selected to take part in the study were selected based on the following criteria; they were all practicing in separate early years centres which ensured a broader range of opinions for the research. Secondly, they were all deemed to have a good level of knowledge on the subject, based on the qualifications that each participant held. The findings of the research study that are presented are discussed in consideration of the theoretical knowledge that has been investigated in the literature review. The findings highlight the extensive benefits that are to be gained from involving parents in the early years, however, the key finding of the study exposes the fact that although the importance of parental involvement is being highlighted through policy, and is recognised by all practitioners, the fact remains that in reality it is not being implemented to the greatest extent. The practitioners have all outlined the importance of parental involvement, however their understanding of the term, would suggest that they believe the lowest level of involvement is sufficient. Findings also suggest that the key barriers highlighted in this research relate to parents lack of time, language barriers, lack of knowledge and multicultural differences. However, it is evident from the research that despite the many barriers, practitioners still believe that the level of parental involvement remains substantially high. It was concluded by the researcher that despite the practitioner’s views and revelations of the level of parental involvement within each centre, what actually constitutes parental involvement does not match their revelations. In light of the findings that were obtained directly from this study, some recommendations were made in relation to the implementation of parental involvement within the early years setting. It is recommended that the written policy documents on parental involvement be re-examined and modified in order to include parents who are being neglected due to certain barriers that have been discussed in this study. Another recommendation that has been made based on the findings of this study, is to provide early years practitioners with parental involvement training. This training will ensure that all parents are being respected and valued and will encourage them to participate in their children’s early years setting.
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