Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Family Involvement in Preschool Education: Rationale, Problems and Solutions for the Participants

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Family Involvement in Preschool Education: Rationale, Problems and Solutions for the Participants

Article excerpt

The first place where children reveal their inherent potential and acquire new behaviors is at home. Their social environment which enlarges over time, as well as their educational needs, enable other people to influence children. In the early years of life, preschool education has a critical role not only in meeting children's educational needs but also in supporting their development (Oguzkan & Oral, 1995; Travick Smith, 2003 as cited in Schunk, 2009; Yilmaz, 1999). Many previous studies have shown that later academic achievement is determined during preschool (Aksu Koç, Bekman, & Erguvanli Taylan, 2004; Cramer & Browne, 1974; Ferah, 2001; Kagitçibasi, Sunar, Bekman, & Cemalcilar, 2005; Programme for International Student Assessment, 2003; Taner & Basal, 2005). Having a crucial role in aiding early child development, families and preschool institutions need to act together. Family involvement in the educational process will enable children to create positive products (Barnard, 2004; Coutts, Sheridan, Kwon, & Semke, 2012; Domina, 2005; El Nokali, Bachman, & Vortruba Drzal, 2010). Teachers and administrators want to know how to work effectively with families and ensure social involvement in order to increase student success. Similarly, families wish to know how they can contribute to their children's education and communicate effectively with their teachers. Students on the other hand wish to be successful at school and for this they need the encouragement, support and guidance of their parents, teachers and society. Despite the importance of this, many schools fall short of developing comprehensive and effective programs for familial, scholastic and societal cooperation (Epstein et al., 2002).

Based on parents who contribute to their children's developmental and educational processes via various activities in and out of school (Chavkin & Williams, 1985 as cited in Erkan, 2010), family involvement affects children positively and benefits families (Dunlap, 2000; Essa, 2011; Powell & O'Leary, 2009; Ural, 2010). Epstein (2002) stresses that educators need to develop more comprehensive programs which cover the school, families and society. Separating the degree of family involvement in educational processes into 6 categories, parenthood, communication, volunteering, learning at home, decision-making and cooperation with society, Epstein included many examples of practices and cooperation for each category in his model. Each family involvement type is considered in an interrelated whole. Epstein (2008 as cited in Ahioglu Lindberg & Demircan, 2013) states that the biggest responsibility for ensuring family involvement rests with the teachers. However, activities need to be planned and organized to ensure the cooperation of teachers, families and students. The model also emphasizes that it is important for schools and society in general to work with families, students and teachers in decision and policy-making (Epstein & Jansorn Rodriguez, 2004 as cited in Ahioglu Lindberg & Demircan, 2013). The positive attitudes and behaviors shown by teachers and administrators play a crucial role in ensuring effective, suitable and active family involvement in preschools. The importance attached to family involvement by teachers and administrators, based on their knowledge and experiences, planning and consistency of behavior, affect the quality of involvement. Similarly, having parents view involvement as a responsibility and getting them to cooperate is also important for family involvement (Avci, 2013; Aydogan, 2010).

Functions which involve families in preschool education may be grouped under five headings (Aktas Arnas, 2011a; Aydogan, 2010; Cömert & Erdem, 2011; Çagdas & Sahin Seçer, 2011; Hornby, 2011; Temel, Aksoy, & Kurtulmus, 2010): (i) Family educational activities. These activities include the training given to families to help them meet the developmental and educational needs of their children. …

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