Children’s School Readiness: The Perspectives of African Refugee Mothers in a Supported Playgroup

By Rebecca New and Andrew M. Guilfoyle.

Published by The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

Recent focus on the “early years” has meant increased attention to children’s early learning experiences. An emerging pressure exists for parents to develop their children’s preparedness for school, pursuant to research emphasising the importance of ‘school readiness’ as a buffer against future academic, social, and mental health problems. The perspectives of parents, influenced by social and cultural factors, are often central to how well children are prepared for the transition to school. For refugee parents, children's successful schooling has been identified as both a general aspiration, and a pathway for children's integration; however, little is known about their experiences in relation to preparing their children for school. The purpose of the present study was to explore the meanings African refugee mothers ascribe to their children's school readiness, using an interpretive phenomenology methodology. A focus group and in-depth interviews with a total of 8 Burundi refugee mothers, as well as playgroup staff and a kindergarten teacher, showed a range of concerns about school readiness different to those experienced by mainstream parents and parents from different cultures. In the context of these described difficulties, the meaning of assistance provided by a supported playgroup was discussed. The study provides support for further examination of the specific parenting experiences of refugee populations in which values and norms are suggested to be vastly different to those endorsed in Australia. It further demonstrates the importance of supported playgroups assisting refugee mothers as they navigate parenting issues in relation to their children’s school readiness and transitions to kindergarten.

Keywords: Theme: Early Childhood Learning, School Readiness, Kindergarten, Supported Playgroups, Refugees, Parents

The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp.1-14. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 444.833KB).

Rebecca New

Honours Student, School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia

Rebecca has completed undergraduate studies in criminology and justice, and psychology. After recently completing her Honours degree in psychology, she is currently undertaking a Master of Applied Psychology (clinical psychology). Her research interests include working with marginalised populations.

Dr Andrew M. Guilfoyle

Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia

Dr Andrew Guilfoyle (PhD) is an associate professor of teaching, and research scholar, in the School of Psychology and Social Science at Edith Cowan University. Andrew teaches qualitative research methods and his funded research focuses on developing sustainable services for social inclusion of marginalised Indigenous, refugee and other culturally diverse communities. Andrew works within a constructionist, participatory, locational, community based approach, showing the utility and challenges of understanding and encouraging not only community involvement, but also community engagement in policy making and evaluation.