Parents' perceptions and experiences of parent-led learning : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education (Teaching and Learning) at Massey University, New Zealand
Parents have a significant and irreplaceable role in their child’s learning, a role that has the potential to counteract social, cultural and economic disadvantages, and improve children’s educational outcomes. However, for parents to succeed in their role, they need to view their contributions as important, feel valued in their role, and have confidence in their ability to succeed. Existing research on parental roles has had limited scope, viewing parental contributions as supplementary to formal schooling. A mixed methods explanatory sequential research study explored parents’ role perceptions and experiences of parent-led learning (PLL). The term PLL places parents, rather than teachers, at the centre of learning. This study, based in London, UK, asked parents of children in Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 (KS1) in one primary school to rate their perceived importance and enjoyment levels of 11 predetermined home learning activities (HLA). Survey results identified a positive correlation between parents’ perceived value, and enjoyment levels, of HLA. Thematic analysis of open-ended questions resulted in three main themes: parents’ understanding of learning processes and their child’s needs, parents’ understanding of themselves and their capabilities and, the practicalities of PLL. A follow up focus group was held to deepen understanding of the survey results. Findings revealed parents as: having high aspirations for their children, competent, and willing to help their children learn. Parents strongly viewed their role as important and invaluable, and particularly suited to relationship-based learning experiences due to the intimate nature of parent-child relationships. Significant value was placed on positive experiences of learning. Although findings of this study are localised to the participant school, and have limited generalisability, they may provide school leaders with insight into parents’ experiences in their school. Other educators may be inspired to reflect on their relationships with parents, power dynamics and perceptions of learning.