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Parents’ Voices Through the Pandemic – How a Community Action Research Project Shaped a Parent-Child Engagement Programme

Darmody, Kate and Mihalka, Ramona (2022) Parents’ Voices Through the Pandemic – How a Community Action Research Project Shaped a Parent-Child Engagement Programme. In: Collaborative Action Research Network (CARN) Conference. CARN, Dublin, Ireland. (Unpublished)

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The Early Learning Initiative (ELI) works in partnership with local communities in an area of socio-economic disadvantage to address the problem of educational underachievement. The organisation uses a Community Action Research (CAR) approach to observe, reflect, act, evaluate and modify its projects which enables continuous evolution and improvement (McNiff, 2010). The period during the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenging time for parents nationally with their children home from school, the variations in levels of supports received from their child’s school, the discrepancy in access to required technology and parents’ anxiety about the return to school in September (Kelly, Fleming, Demirel and O’Hara 2020). During this time ELI sought new ways to collaborate with families to improve the supports provided, evolving with their changing needs. One approach was a study exploring parents’ perspectives of the family’s wellbeing during the pandemic, their experiences of home-schooling, school support, and technology. Employing the use of a survey, parents of school going children between the ages of 4 and 13 (N=165) were contacted by phone and asked a series of open-ended and closed-ended questions. The study is part of ELI’s CAR approach, which has been approved by the National College of Ireland’s Ethics Committee. Results evidenced the mixed experiences of parents during the pandemic with some parents reporting good levels of family wellbeing and positive home learning experiences, while others found it difficult, particularly when the schools were closed. However, the transition back to school was rated to be a positive experience by most parents. These findings offer a valuable insight into the real-life experiences of parents of school going children in Ireland living during a global pandemic. The project highlighted a gap in ELI’s family support and identified a need to support parents as home educators. Thus, the initiative was developed into the Stretch Graduate Programme, focusing on supporting families with children aged between 4-6 years old, and aiming to improve children’s holistic development by empowering their parents with confidence, skills and knowledge that can support their children’ education and wellbeing.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
L Education > LC Special aspects / Types of education > Blended Learning
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > Early childhood education
L Education > LC Special aspects / Types of education > Home Schooling
Divisions: Early Learning Initiative Publications
Depositing User: Tamara Malone
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2023 15:27
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2023 15:27

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