Identifying Barriers and Solutions to Increase Parent-Practitioner Communication in Early Childhood Care and Educational Services: The Development of an Online Communication Application

Abstract

There is considerable evidence that highlights the importance of family involvement in early childhood education and care (ECEC) on children’s development and how when combined with professional involvement has a very positive impact on children’s holistic development and therefore, quality ECEC. However, in practice, communicating with families from diverse backgrounds who have limited time, employment obligations, and varying expectations for their child’s ECEC has proven to be challenging. To investigate family involvement practices in ECEC services, 18 semi-structured interviews with Irish practitioners and 15 families were conducted. To understand the influence of family involvement on children’s development, this study was underpinned by Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-ecological framework. The interviews demonstrated that there is a dearth of communication between the home and ECEC services which results in misunderstandings between ECEC stakeholders (practitioners and families). Five barriers to family involvement (attitudinal, structural, cultural, environmental, and welfare) were identified during the interview phase. Subsequently, the development of TeachKloud, a cloud-based management ECEC tool, originated in part, to facilitate quality family involvement practices. TeachKloud was trialled for three months by seven ECEC services and 13 families of children aged 2.8–5.6 years old. A survey was administered after the respective trials to assess the efficacy of TeachKloud in supporting quality practice in ECEC services. This paper focuses on TeachKloud’s impact on family involvement. Findings indicate that online technologies such as TeachKloud decrease barriers to family involvement and make children’s learning more visible to families, thereby, improving the quality of ECEC provision.

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Correspondence to Ayooluwa Oke.

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Oke, A., Butler, J.E. & O’Neill, C. Identifying Barriers and Solutions to Increase Parent-Practitioner Communication in Early Childhood Care and Educational Services: The Development of an Online Communication Application. Early Childhood Educ J 49, 283–293 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01068-y

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Keywords

  • Educational technology
  • Family involvement
  • Quality