Date of Award

12-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education and Human Development

Committee Member

Dr. Hans Klar, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Boyer

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Knoeppel

Committee Member

Dr. Sandra Linder

Abstract

The perceptions that parents, teachers, and early childhood education leaders have about school readiness, and how these individuals promote readiness in children, influences how prepared children are to enter the school setting. In this study, I drew upon an ecological systems model to examine how parents, teachers, and early childhood school leaders perceive and promote school readiness. In this study, I also examined the strategies that early childhood education leaders' used to build relationships with families and community members, and to foster parent involvement. I used semi-structured interviews to collect data from 11 participants in three Head Start Centers in a southeastern state. I analyzed, coded, and grouped the data into themes. Eight themes emerged from the data that was analyzed. The results of this study revealed that parents', teachers', and school leaders' beliefs about readiness were imbedded in the context of their surrounding environments, and influenced their actions and behaviors in working together to prepare children for school. The outcome of the study revealed that parents believed readiness was a level of cognitive ability – specifically demonstrated by reading, writing, and mathematical skills. Parents also believed that family support and routines promoted readiness. Additionally, parents noted that readiness was a result of communication between the school and the family, and family support at home. Teachers believed that readiness was being able to sit, listen, and follow directions, as well as a level of cognitive ability. School leaders described their beliefs of readiness being a multidimensional concept, encompassing many different parts. School leaders also discussed strategies used to encourage family involvement in preparing children for school. Lastly, school leaders indicated that children's readiness was affected by parents' understanding of readiness. The implications and recommendations included suggestions for future research that would include the recognition of parents' cultural values and beliefs about readiness. Furthermore, more research is needed that specifically focuses on the perceptions and actions of parents, teachers, and school leaders concerning school readiness.

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