Parents' and educators' beliefs regarding their influence on preschool children's competencies

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Fees, Bronwyn
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Jacques D. Lempers
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Human Development and Family Studies

Traditionally, parents have been considered the primary source of influence on development in children. However many preschoolers spend substantial portions of their day in child care surrounded by peers. This study surveyed mothers', fathers', (n = 112) and early childhood educators' (n = 30) beliefs regarding their influence relative to other developmental agents (genetics, peers, siblings, and the child's own effort) on six cognitively and socially oriented child competencies. The parents' child (M = 49 months) served as the target child. All children received 30+ hours a week of nonparental care. Mother, father, and child lived within the same household. Ile child's educator was employed in center- based care. Data were analyzed using correlations and repeated measures MANCOVA with post hoc paired t-tests;After controlling for the effects of education, number of children, and parental control, mothers and fathers believed themselves to have similar influence in fostering competence and were more influential than the educator, genetics, and child's own effort. Educators indicated no significant difference in influence between themselves, mother, and father; however, post hoc results indicated educators agreed with parents' lower rating of educators' influence as well. as parents' higher rating of parental influence. With respect to specific competencies, both mothers and fathers believed their parenting was most influential in fostering cooperation and consideration within their child; the educator was least influential in assisting the child in gaining emotional control. Educators believed themselves to be most influential in fostering academic/school-type competence in children than in emotional control competence. Mothers of secondor third-born children rated sibling influence to be greater than mothers and fathers of only or oldest children;Mothers and fathers consider the father to be a coequal partner in parenting their children, indicative of the contemporary father image. Child, genetic, and peer influences are believed to be comparatively weak. Educators consider themselves partners in childrearing while parents allege primary affect. Implications include the importance of assessing both mothers' and fathers' beliefs for effective intervention. Additional research should focus on cultural differences in beliefs, discrepant within-couple beliefs, additional agents of influence and parent-educator relationships in other care settings.

Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1998