The education of African refugee preschoolers: Views of parents toward appropriate practices, experiences of parents/teachers and encouragement/barriers to greater parent involvement
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This study examined the views of African refugee parents regarding the National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) construct of developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) in early childhood education. Despite its wide acceptance and implementation, DAP remains a controversial construct with regard to its relevance to young children who come from cultures different from that of mainstream US culture. Though studies are beginning to explore views regarding DAP from an international perspective, very few studies were found that explore the views of African parents regarding DAP. Therefore, this study explored African parents' belief regarding the NAEYC DAP construct and to what extent such beliefs differ between Africans of diverse nationalities and between African parents and preschool teachers. The conceptual framework for this study was based on Sociocultural Learning Theory. A mixed method research design was employed to explore research questions. Participants included a total of 100 African refugee parents from Liberia, the Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia and 30 public preschool teachers. Participants completed a survey regarding their view toward DAP. Interviews with individual refugee parents were also employed to obtain a deeper understanding of related issues emerging from the survey instrument. Data were analyzed via descriptive statistics, Chi square, and ethnographic methods. Results suggest parents he more inconsistent with developmentally inappropriate practices as defined by NAEYC. Further, the higher degree of formal education, the more African refugee parents were supportive of the DAP construct. Preschool teachers appeared more supportive of the DAP construct. Teachers also indicated they implement DAP concepts with a development-based performance assessment, which parents perceived unfair to their children as it appeared to exclude elements of culture. Based upon findings, it was recommended that preschool teachers educate themselves about diverse cultures of the African refugee children in their classrooms, use multiple instructional models, and more culturally inclusive classroom performance assessment. It is also suggested that recruitment and training of early childhood educators needs to address educational practices within a sociocultural context. A replication of this study with larger sample and a qualitative study with observation of African refugee children's performances in the classroom are some of the suggestions for future research.
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