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SUPPORT OF EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS TO THE PARENTS OF CHILDREN DURING THE TRANSITION PERIOD PRESCHOOL-PRIMARY SCHOOL
Bethere Dina, Dr.paed., assistant professor,
Mackevica Linda, Dr.paed., associate professor
University of Liepaja
According to the ecosystem approach theory, the transition period from pre-school to primary school is considered as a standard or planned ecological transition. In such context, the content of ecological transition is adaptation of an individual to requirements of different institutions or mutual adaptation of an organism and social environment. The period between finishing pre-school education and starting primary school education is a transitional time for the parents of children, too. They have to overcome the transition period individually and, at the same time, they must support their child and help him/her to overcome it. Quality of the transition period depends on a combination of subjective and contextual resources available to an individual, where creating a social network between pre-school and primary school institutions is of great significance. Research carried out in the educational environment of Latvia shows that parents of children are confronted with a fundamental lack of contextual resources during the transition period from pre-school to primary school.
Keywords: communication, direct link, educational transition period, family microsystem.
Educational transition period of a child is characterized by permanent procesual course in a family microsystem. Parents are dually involved in the process: they have to overcome the transition period personally and support their child at the same time (Griebel, Niesel, 2004). Accordingly, at the end of the transition period it is expected that parents become as the parents of a pupil, that is, being responsible for the significant role during their children`s preparation process to school and assuming their part of responsibility in cocreating the transition period (Johansson, 2002; Fabian, 2002; Griebel, Niesel, 2004).
In this context parents have to understand the sense of demands and rules, they have to activate existing necessary resources to overcome the problem, as well as they have to be sure about the problem solution`s significance in their and their children`s lives (Wicki, 1997). Formation and development of these possibilities are some of the functions of educational institutions. Therefore the formation of a direct link between parents and teachers of the current and further educational institution is a significant condition to ensure the quality of an educational transition period. Due to this mutual communication, parents are able to assume more responsibility for the implementation of their child`s educational process and the social role as pupil`s parents (Brostr?m, 2002; Niesel, 2004).
The objectives of education microsystems for creating collaboration with parents develop in accordance with the phases of transition process. Consolidating the empirical research results, carried out in different national education systems (Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Australia, New Zealand etc.), it can be concluded that interactivity of education and family microsystems integrate individual communication and collaboration, wider range of informative activities, provision of written informative materials etc.
Preparing children for primary education acquisition and its successful start has been a significant object for discussions in both pedagogical and political level in the education system of Latvia during the first decade of 21st century. Research work and implementation of research projects on practical processes of the transition period preschool-school have been devoted to the problem, but they mainly focus on the content of education and its continuity. There is a lack of research and practical activities, devoted to the problem solving in interactional relations of education microsystems. Thus, also opportunities for effective collaboration among educational institutions and parents of children have not been offered.
Considering the topicality of the problem, the article analyzes functioning specifics of a child`s family and education during the transition period. To achieve this goal, the analysis of scientific literature and interpretation of parents` inquiry results have been used.
Involvement of a Child`s Family Microsystem into the Process of Transition in the Education System of Latvia
The greatest responsibility for a child`s life and development has been delegated to the family microsystem in Latvia. Parental obligations include advocacy of child`s rights and interests protected by law, taking care of children and their property, preparation of children for independent life into the society, respecting their individualities and taking into consideration their abilities and aspirations. Thus, parents are primarily responsible for their children`s compulsory education and their obligations contain provision of necessary conditions for their health, development and social life, as well as for collaboration with the educational institution attended by the child. In macrosystemically reglamented parental obligations this context also includes the choice of their child`s educational institution, participation in the study process improvement and self-government, conclusion a contract with educational institution about the child`s education, giving and receiving information on the issues connected with the child`s upbringing and studies. This totality of parental obligations and rights determined by law create the role of a parent demanded by society. Accordingly, educational institutions have to support parents of children in its implementation.
In order to clarify the quality of real support, the inquiry has been carried out from 2010 to 2011, and the parents of first grade pupils have been inquired from ten primary schools (n = 530). They represent varied social settings, which include representatives from language minorities, families under the risk of social exclusion and the parents, who bring up children with special needs. The parents involved in the research are characterized by diverse level of education. In accordance with the data summarized, the research work includes parents with limited experience in overcoming the educational transition period, since their first child begins the acquisition of primary education. The dominant criterion in the selection of a primary school is its nearby location to the place of living, but comparatively less significant factor is its collaboration with the former preschool institution attended by the child.
By the means of the inquiry, the data have been obtained about several aspects of interactional relations of education microsystems and children`s families in the educational transition period preschool-primary school, such as involvement of parents in the processes of educational transition period, using direct link, ensuring communication with the parents of becoming pupils, respect of parental status and emotional conditions, involvement of parents and informing them on provision of interactive adaptation activities, involvement of parents in creation of social network at primary school (see Table 1).
Summarizing the data obtained, it has to be taken into consideration that parents involved in the research have their own individual concept about the educational transition period and essentially different competences for ensuring necessary support for both their children and themselves. Also their motivation and real initiative to join into interactional relations with the microsystems of children education is individual. In this context, one of the most significant factors is a formation of direct links among the parents and teachers of becoming pupils. The analysis of data obtained in the research certifies that discussions and extensive informative activities, organized within the microsystem of primary school, have comparatively higher specific weight. Similar activities have been organized also at preschool. Although the use of quantitative methods in this case has limited possibilities to obtain more extensive information, considering the comments in the inquiry forms, primary school teachers practically do not participate in such kind of activities. To a certain extent, this is certified by the lack of possibilities of potential pupils` parents to participate in mutual discussions with preschool and primary school teachers about their children`s development. Likewise the possibilities of primary school teachers to discuss developmental aspects of becoming pupils with their parents have to be considered as contradictory. In accordance with the research data analysis, a significant condition in organizing such direct links is the initiative of parents. It is an important resource, however, they are not always able to use it effectively, being into a primary school setting unfamiliar to them. Therefore, the offer to collaborate has to be emphasized by the microsystem of a primary school.
In accordance with the research data analysis, dominating majority of respondents take part in extensive informative activities organized by a primary school, for example, at parents` meetings. The content of these activities are not particularly discussed in comments. Considering totality of the data in connection with the possibilities to create a social network at primary school, the implementation of such meetings foresee quite limited possibilities for consulting and getting acquainted mutually with current and potential parents of schoolchildren. In this sphere subjective initiative of parents has to be considered as a dominant stimulus. Quite limited is also the participation of becoming schoolchildren`s parents at Information Days activities. The collaboration with parental organizations of primary school institutions has to be considered as even more ineffective.
On the whole, evaluation activities offered to parents in accordance with the criterion of parental satisfaction, indicate that there is a high proportion of respondents, who have considered both forms of collaboration for obtaining the necessary information as ineffective or they do not have particular opinion. Interpreting the totality of the research results, it can be concluded that in the basis of ensuring interactions there are asymmetrically developed relations with potential parents of schoolchildren. During the process of interaction the school`s microsystem formulates and expresses its needs to parents, but particular questions of parents are less taken into consideration.
Interpreting research data, it can be also considered that asymmetry of relations expresses in ensuring communication between written informative materials used in family and primary school microsystems. As it is demonstrated by the analysis of comments from inquiry forms, the content of informative materials disseminated at primary schools in a standardized manner presents the description of school`s microsystem, formulates demands for material and pedagogical support of parents, but comparatively less attention is turned to their emotional feelings during the educational transition period of their children. There is also a comparatively high proportion of respondents, who do not receive any kind of materials. In this context it is not possible to clarify whether such materials have not been offered or representatives of the relevant group do not participate in the activities planned for parents. Therefore, the deficit of necessary information for parents can be considered as an essential problem.
1. Analysis of scientific literature as well as political and pedagogical discussions certifies that ensuring communication and collaboration between educational institutions and children`s parents has to be considered as one of the most important conditions in creating unified and systemic educational transition period conception in the national education system.
2. Educational transition period of a child is characterized by permanent procesual course in a family microsystem and the formation of a direct link between parents and teachers of the current and further educational institution is a significant condition to ensure the quality of the transition process.
3. Interactional relations of education and family microsystems integrate mutual communication and collaboration during the educational transition period preschool-primary school: due to this, parents are able to assume responsibility for the implementation of their child`s educational process and the social role as pupil`s parents.
4. The research data show that there are asymmetrically developed relations between educational institutions and potential parents of schoolchildren, because of a) individual understanding about the educational transition period, b) individual motivation and initiative to join into interactional relations with the microsystems of children education, and c) different competences for ensuring necessary support for both their children and themselves.
5. Considering the research data, the following factors have to be improved: a) a formation of direct links among parents and teachers of becoming pupils with the respect to emotional feelings of parents during the educational transition period of their children, b) involvement of parents and informing them about provision of interactive adaptation activities, and c) involvement of parents in creation of social network at primary school.
The publication is prepared by the financial support of Comenius multilateral project „Transitions and multilingualism - TRAM” Elternverein Baden-W?rttemberg e.V. (Agreement No. 2009-3902/001-001, years 2009– 2012).
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