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This study focuses on identifying the primary concerns parents have at school entry for their children. The investigation is a qualitative analysis of data derived from a series of ten parent focus group sessions conducted in a large northeastern school district. The ten sessions were conducted over a period of four months for a total of twenty hours of data. Regular members of the focus group included four parents who had 4 and 5 year old children in an early childhood literacy program, a volunteer community member in the program and the researcher. Each session was audio taped then transcribed verbatim to facilitate understanding of the developing topics of interest. The original question for the participants was meant to prompt parents to discuss activities embedded in the curriculum that they perceived as facilitating growth in their children. The study took an immediate turn from the original research question when one of the parents rephrased the question and changed the perspective from which the program would be viewed. Concerns related to the needs of school entry became more important. These concerns clustered around child and academic development and how each unfolds in the early literacy program. The primary research question became, “Do these two dimensions of learning, the developmental and the academic, sit comfortably together or are there conflicts between them from the parents’ perspectives?” The study found three conflicts. The first is the configuration of time and task in the classroom. Academic work is very advanced and children engage in many different tasks. Parents do not have a clear understanding of this and it causes tension. The second element is behavior. When their children do not follow classroom protocol, parents would like their children to discuss and resolve the matter quickly with the teacher. They become apprehensive when this does not happen. The third element concerns the desire to plan an event that would begin a dialogue with teachers around common goals. Although the school gives tacit approval, it is difficult to find time to work on plans with the administration and this contributes to the tension parents feel.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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