Guardians have a high level of trust in pre-school

Guardians would like to be involved in the preschool but would prefer not to be involved in making any decisions. This is despite the fact that the preschool curriculum mentions teaching and that guardians should be involved in preschool education in various ways. This is the result of a study from the School of Education and Communication (HLK) at Jönköping University (JU).

Lärare och två barn.

The study was conducted by Charlotte Öhman, who is a PhD student in pedagogy and has, as part of her research project, published a study where guardians have talked about their perceptions of participation in preschool and its teaching. In 2018, it was written into the preschool curriculum that there should be teaching at preschools and that guardians should be involved in this.

Charlotte is a trained preschool teacher and worked as such before she joined JU as a university lecturer and doctoral student, which is where her interest in the area comes from.

"I have always thought that parental involvement in preschools is important, and something I have always cherished, but it is not always easy. There is research and studies that show that parental involvement is important, but there have not been many studies conducted with the parents themselves," says Charlotte Öhman.

Conversations with 20 guardians

The purpose of the study was to investigate guardians’ perceptions of their involvement in preschool. This was to understand how important the preschool's relationships with the guardians are for the children's ability to learn and develop. The study was semi-structured, which means that Charlotte had some prepared questions, but the interviews were more like conversations, allowing the guardians to talk freely.

20 guardians from five different pre-schools within one municipality were interviewed. The guardians were selected from a wide distribution of people so that there was a mix of backgrounds, from urban and rural areas, speaking different languages and so on. The questions posed to the guardians included things like: “How would you describe your pariticipation in preschool?” and “How do you perceive your involvement in the education given?”

"A bit surprised by some results"

Charlotte Öhman

Charlotte Öhman.

It turned out that the guardians have different perceptions of what participation actually means.

“I had no clear idea beforehand how they would respond. What I was a bit surprised about was that many of them want a personal relationship with the preschool but it depends on their circumstances. They want to be involved, but not necessarily to make decisions. The guardians I spoke to have great faith in their child’s preschool," says Charlotte Öhman.

The guardians said that they want to be involved but were satisfied with being informed and that they believed that it was voluntary to participate in decision-making about teaching.

Charlotte concludes that preschool teachers need to have a dialogue with guardians so that they understand the specific contexts in which they can participate with their child’s preschool education.

"I think it's important that all preschools work actively in this area. It is clearly signaled in policy documents that parental involvement is important, but perhaps we need to talk more with parents about how they want to and can be involved," says Charlotte Öhman.

Martin Hugo, Associate Professor of Education and Lilly Augustine, Associate Professor of Disability Studies, both at HLK, are Charlotte's supervisors and were involved in the writing of the article.