This is a proposal for research into the importance of father’s involvements in their child’s education and the barriers that can be faced by the fathers. My interest in this topic comes from my professional background as I work with children. In my profession we normally witness more mothers and female carers who are actively involved in their children’s education such as drop off, pick up, writing in their home school diary, talking to their child’s key person as well as attending parent’s days. We have been told that father’s involvement has a great out come for their children’s education and the ofsted (2000) say ‘there is a disturbing absence of men involved in family learning.’ The Every parent matters report states particularly a fathers involvement in children’s education has strong links with the outcomes of a child. Father and child relations whether positive or negative have insightful impacts on the children that can last a lifetime. Therefore I would like to have more knowledge in this aspect and see how this problem can be overcome.
2. Literature Review:
There is a lot of literature around parent’s participation in their children’s education. What exactly is parental involvement? Parental involvement has no universal definition and it comes in many forms.
2.1 Importance of parental involvement
The DFES states recent research projects have found that parental warmth, stability and setting boundaries are very important parts of helping children develop and this is also known as parental involvement. This also involves reading to their child, singing nursery rhymes with them etc. Why is parental involvement important? The EPPE study found that what parents do is more important than who they are. Parents who engage with a variety of activities with their children are all associated with higher intellectual, social and behavioural scores. Fitzgerald (2004) states that the parent and practitioner relation holds great importance in a child’s early education as each party brings diverse knowledge to the partnership and the knowledge from each side has unique elements.
Parents/carers have greater knowledge about the culture and behaviour at home, the important people in the child’s life and any health issues or any significant issues related to the child; whilst the practitioner has better knowledge of the child’s needs whilst at the setting and the curriculum activities meeting those needs etc.(Keyser,2001) as cited in Fitzgerald. One of the greatest benefits Fitzgerald (2004) identified of the parent practitioner relationship is that children are more likely to see a great similarity between their home and the setting and this will help them settle and behave similar in both places. DFES published a report called Every Parent Matters (2007) and they have stated that children learn best from their parents as they observe their parents behaviour and imitate it. As well as this a number of studies investigated the benefits of the parental involvement and these studies identified clear connection with increased achievement , a much better attitude towards learning and also less behaviour problems
2.2 Benefits of fathers involvement
What are the benefits of father’s involvement? Before the 1980’s majority of childcare issues within families were usually dealt with by women, however since the 80’s there has been a shift in the expectations in society and there has been a policy agenda introduced to encourage more participation of fathers in their children’s education, especially for younger children. (McBride, 2001) Fitzgerald (2004) also states there are increased benefits for children whose fathers are involved in their early year’s education. These benefits include the children’s greater levels of well-being and an inner locus of control. Educational failure is increased by lack of parental interest in their child’s education (DFES, 2007). In a study that the DFES looked into findings show that 72% of parents wanted more involvement in their children’s early years’ education. The DFES report on impact of parental involvement on children’s education suggests that some research has found fathers are involved in some specific types of activities with their children more than their mothers for example physical play, building and repairing activities etc.
2.3 Barriers faced by fathers
Why are fathers not involved as much as mothers? There are many barriers to a father’s participation in their child’s early education Goldman, R carried out a research on fathers and their involvement and she found that many education based programmes were done during daytime and more mothers attended than fathers as they were more likely to be in employment. Also one of the main barriers that there is for fathers to be involved in the child’s education and care is the misconception that caring for children is a mother’s duty only. All child care centres and nurseries are most likely to have an environment focused in females which could be uncomfortable for fathers. Negative stereotypes as also displayed by the media. Pat (2010) points out a recent advertise aired on T.V. which showed a father changing a nappy and putting on a tea towel instead of a nappy this gives out negative stereotype messages and also lowers many fathers confidence.
2.4 Evaluation of literature
Looking at all the literature found above it can be seen that there is a great amount of benefits for children when fathers are involved in their care and education and it can also be evidenced that there are reasons and barriers that make men avoid working in the childcare force or even to participate in the role of the carer for their child. All literature reviewed is within the 20th century and is quite current so the reasons still apply. This reinforces the reason for this research so current barriers can be identified and recommendations from parents can be put into place.
3. Study Design
In further text a plan has been designed to undertake a research study in children’s early education.
3.1 Research Focus
This research will focus on investigating the benefit of father’s involvement in their children’s educations and will aim to find fathers recommendations on how their experience can be improved in regards to early year’s partnership in their child’s education. Also the various barriers these fathers face in accessing help on parenting issues or early year’s education will be explored and what can help the fathers overcome these barriers.
It is impossible to access every member of the population to gain their views for any research and so comes the need for sampling. The sampling method used for this research study will be quota sampling. Walliman (2001) says that this is an attempt of balancing the sample used by selecting equal numbers of different respondents. in the case of this study the sampling will involve making a note of all the different types of families such as lone parents, joint families, parents working long hours etc, and then a few from each group will be chosen. This division ensures that the samples represent the key subgroups of the research population. (O’Leary 2004)`
There are many different methods for research and each method has its strength as well as weakness. Some methods are suited to some situations better than others. The variety of methods used to undertake this research study will give qualitative data via interviews and some quantitative data via questionnaires. Bell (2005) has identified one major advantage of interviews is how its adapted an interview allows the interviewer to follow up ideas, and investigate feelings which in contrast a questionnaire is unable to capture. The interviews used for this research will be semi structured so the interviewer will still have a clear focus of issues to be addressed. However the interview will be flexible about the order of how the interview flows.
Having a semi structured interview is more beneficial as it gives the interviewee the opportunity to get any issues across and give inner feedback because of its flexibility, but at the same time the issues needed to be covered within the interview for the specific topic is also all covered. The reason why unstructured interviews are not suitable for this study design because it is one of the hardest methods in which the information can be used effectively and the interview can go off topic so all information that is required may not be obtained. The questionnaires will have clear, simple and precise questions making it easier for the target audience to understand. Questions will be a mixture of open and closed ones so numbers can be found through data but at the same time the individuals are given an opportunity to answer questions in their own words and add on any other information they may think is necessary. (Denscombe, 1998)
There are certain ethical guidelines that need to be followed before carrying out any research. This research will conform to those ethical guidelines. All participants of interviews and questionnaires for this study will be assured that all their information will be kept confidential and only be used for this research purpose. They will also be assured that they will be kept anonymous and their name will only be disclosed to seniors involved in the research project. All participants will be informed beforehand what their valuable information will be used for and who it will be shared with. As well as this the participants will also be informed that their participation is much appreciated and that they can withdraw from answering any question at any point of the interview or questionnaire. In this way all ethical issues will be dealt with in an appropriate manner. (Bell, J 2005)
In conclusion it can be seen that father’s involvement in their children’s early education is vital and has many great benefits. There are many barriers that fathers face and so the research proposal designed in this work would give fathers an opportunity to talk about how these barriers can be overcome and what their recommendations would be to help in encouraging more fathers to further be involved in their children’s education.
Bell, J (2005). Doing your research project. 4th ed. Berkshire: Open University Press.
Denscombe, M (1998). The Good Research Guide. Buckingham: Open University Press.
DFES (2003). The impact of parental involvement on children’s education. London: Department for children, schools and family
DFES (2007). Every parent matters. London: Department for children, schools and family.
Fitzgerald, D (2004). Parent partnership in the early years. London: Continuum.
Goldman, R (2005). Involvement in their children’s education. London: National family and Parenting institute.
O’Leary, Z (2004). The essential guide to doing research. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Walliman, N (2001). Your research project. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Wharton, P. (2010). Identifying barriers to dads’ engagement at Three Trees Children’s Centre. http://www.fatherhoodinstitute.org/2010/case-study-identifying-barriers-to-dads-engagement-at-three-trees-childrens-centre-london/. Last accessed 25th April 2012.