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