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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01t722h897j
Title: Family Engagement in New Jersey’s Early Education: Educator and Parent Perceptions of Barriers and Opportunities
Authors: Bartlett, Caitlin
Advisors: Pithers, Lisa
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: High quality early education can imbue children with the skills and habits of mind to achieve success in school and in life. An important component of high quality early education that continues to remain overlooked, however, is engaging families in their child’s learning and development. This thesis explores how to strengthen school-family partnerships and engage families as active supporters of their child’s educational development in both the school and home setting. This paper builds the case for family engagement by drawing on developmental literature to show how formative the early exposures and experiences in a child’s life are to their academic and social-emotional development. In particular, parental behaviors and attitudes are hugely determinative of a child’s educational achievement. Despite the manifest importance of the family in shaping a child’s academic motivation and outcomes, this thesis presents the various barriers that inhibit schools from effectively engaging families. In the absence of conducive national data sets, independent research is conducted in New Jersey—chosen for its dual convenience and distinct history as a leader in early education reform. While an analysis of the state’s early learning services reveals a notable commitment to supporting families, family outreach strategies could certainly be strengthened. This thesis provides a roadmap to improvement by surveying both parents from the NJ PTA and educators from the state’s network of child care centers on the efficacy of family engagement strategies, barriers to implementation, and best practices. The research indicates that New Jersey has significant room for improvement in the implementation of family outreach practices. The most formidable barriers to family partnerships include not only the inevitable time constraint of parents’ busy work and personal lives but also strained parent-teacher relations, eroded by educators’ weak sense of trust in parents’ interest and capability to help their child. This thesis highlights three points of focus for New Jersey: improving communication strategies to empower parents in the home, improving the ethos of collaboration across all stakeholders and customizing programs to family needs.
Extent: 132 pages
URI: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01t722h897j
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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