Date

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School Psychology

First Adviser

Manz, Patricia H.

Other advisers/committee members

Hojnoski, Robin L.; McWayne, Christine M.; Sawyer, L. Brook

Abstract

School readiness research has largely focused on child-level outcomes (e.g., academic and behavioral skill development), as well as teacher and parent reports of activities targeting children's kindergarten transition. Limited work has examined family involvement at the preschool level, particularly as pertains to the school readiness of families. While early childhood programs like Head Start (HS) emphasize and strive to involve families in a variety of ways, the relationship between parents and school shifts dramatically once children enter kindergarten. Parents of HS graduates may find themselves unprepared for the shift in involvement with school that occurs across this transition period in their children's education. Further, the types of involvement activities completed by parents may be shaped by their beliefs about their own roles. However, existing knowledge of parents' beliefs and expectations about their roles during the kindergarten transition is narrow in scope. It is additionally constricted by the use of measures with untested or poor reliability and validity. The development of such measures has previously neglected to seek the direct input of stakeholders like parents of transitioning children. Thus, the current study employed a mixed methods, participatory action research approach to develop the Family Expectations for School Readiness Involvement (FESRI) scale, a measure of parents' beliefs and expectations about parental roles and involvement in preparing their preschool children for elementary school across the kindergarten transition. Review by key stakeholders (HS staff and parents) suggested the FESRI's social acceptability regarding content and ease of use. Exploratory factor analysis yielded a three-factor structure: Relationships, Parent as Teacher, and Preparing for Kindergarten. Rasch modeling provided evidence of acceptable item functioning within each factor and suggested directions for further measure development (e.g., work with parents with lower agreement on FESRI beliefs factors). Preliminary explorations suggested a significant, positive association between these beliefs and family involvement behaviors in HS parents. Initial support was also noted for associations between beliefs and family characteristics potentially reflecting exposure to US school culture and HS services.

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