Early childhood

The Issue

UNICEF in Action

Resources on Early Childhood Development


Parent and community participation

© UNICEF/McConnico/2011

Parent and community participation in the early learning process is key to maximizing the learning outcomes of children.

‘Parent involvement is linked to children's school readiness. Research shows that greater parent involvement in children's learning positively affects the child's school performance, including higher academic achievement (McNeal, 1999; Scribner, Young, & Pedroza, 1999; Sui-Chu & Willms, 1996; Trusty, 1998; Yan & Lin, 2002) and greater social and emotional development (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997; Fantuzzo & McWayne, 2002). Simple interactions, such as reading to young children, may lead to greater reading knowledge and skills (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998) (Lin, 2003).’

Parental involvement in early learning has also been shown to increase parental involvement in primary and post-primary school. The main reasons for involving parents and the community in ECE services are:

(a) Establishing better understanding of children by educators;

(b) promoting among parents and the community appropriate education practices attitudes and behaviors towards children;

(c) providing parent/staff with information and referrals to other services;

(d) supporting for better parenting

Defining quality participation

There is no universal agreement on what parental involvement is, as the concept of participation varies widely by context. The exact characteristics of quality parental involvement in early learning processes must be defined in country contexts. However there are two broad strands.

  • Parents’ involvement in the life of the school.
  • Their involvement in support of the individual child at home and at school (UK Dept. of education and skills, 20032).

Some examples of quality involvement may be reading with children, prompting children for sounds, numerical concepts and other academic concepts in the home, making available learning materials in the home and taking an interest in children’s time at aschool. Some examples of quality involvement in the life of the ECE center means that parents are invited to take part in school events, to provide and receive regular feedback to teachers on their child’s performance in school, to interact with center leaders and to provide resources to strengthen learning in the center.

Tools for monitoring parent and community participation

There are few resources on how to measure parents’ involvement in center-based early learning processes. The most common method reported in international research is surveys and questionnaires to teachers and parents about their involvement in the school.

Tool 3. The Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS–R)

Tool 7. Early Childhood Education (ECE) Programme Evaluation Package (India)

Tool 15. Ready School Assessment

Tool 19 ACEI Self-Assessment Tool

Tool 22. High/Scope USA



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