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Susan M. Sheridan University of Nebraska-Lincoln Conference on Human Development April 24, 2004 Ecological Contexts and Continuities in Promoting School.

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Presentation on theme: "Susan M. Sheridan University of Nebraska-Lincoln Conference on Human Development April 24, 2004 Ecological Contexts and Continuities in Promoting School."— Presentation transcript:

1 Susan M. Sheridan University of Nebraska-Lincoln Conference on Human Development April 24, 2004 Ecological Contexts and Continuities in Promoting School Readiness

2 “…a quality that renders the child able to participate successfully in a public school curriculum” (Carlton & Winsler, 1999, p. 338). School Readiness

3 Ecological theory acknowledges the importance of multiple systems, and their interrelationships, in children’s development. Ecological factors that maximize effectiveness of early intervention efforts include continuity among caregiving systems, positive relationships among caregivers, and a family-centered approach. Ecological Theory

4 From an ecological-developmental standpoint, school readiness is concerned not only with “child readiness,” but “parent and child readiness,” and readiness of the home-school mesosystem. Given this perspective, school readiness is no longer the responsibility of the child, but rather the responsibility of the systems within which the child operates. Mesosystemic influences -- connections among home, school, other primary systems -- provide critical contexts for development.

5 Children who experience borders (discontinuities) among home, school and peer/community worlds have the most difficulty making transitions across contexts and are at greatest risk for poor school performance and mental health concerns. Students who experience congruent worlds (i.e., where similar values, expectations, and ways of behaving are evident among family, school, and peers), make easy and smooth transitions across these environments.- Phelan, Davidson, & Yu (1998) Children at risk can succeed “against the odds” when they experience congruent messages, expectations, goals, values, priorities, and supports from families, schools, and communities. -- Bempechat (1998) Why Continuity?

6 Parent-professional partnerships have important outcomes for children: –Increased academic performance, socioemotional benefits, better work habits, more consistent school attendance, school completion Parent-professional partnerships have important outcomes for parents: –Encourages intentionality –Promotes self-efficacy; builds confidence –Enhances skills; builds competence Parent-professional partnerships have important outcomes for educators: –More time is spent on instructional rather than curricular activities –Positive relations are reported with family members –Higher ratings of effectiveness are related to increased parent involvement activities

7  Role construction: general principles guiding a parent’s definition of the parenting role, beliefs about child development & child-rearing, beliefs about appropriate home/parental roles in education –Establishes a range of activities that parents will consider important, necessary, permissible for their own actions on behalf of their child  Sense of self-efficacy: parents’ beliefs about their ability to influence their child’s developmental and educational outcomes, and their effectiveness in influencing their child’s school learning –Enables parents to assume that their involvement will positively influence children’s learning/school performance  Opportunities, invitations, demands for participation: degree to which parents believe the school and child desire their involvement, including a climate that is inviting with opportunities and expectations for involvement –Influences parents basic decisions to be involved -- Hoover-Dempsey & Sandler, 1997 What Predicts Parent Engagement?

8 Home-School Variables that Predict Involvement The “4 A’s” –Approach: value is placed on home and school as partners –Attitude: beliefs on the part of all participants about roles and relationships –Atmosphere: climate in the home and school is conducive for partnership to occur –Actions: opportunities, invitations, two-way communication -- Christenson & Sheridan (2001)

9 The Importance of Quality Relationships The goal of parent engagement is “not merely to get families involved, but rather to connect important contexts for strengthening children’s learning and development” ( Christenson & Sheridan, 2001). Quality relationships among caregivers may be considered a primary protective factor (Weissberg & Greenberg, 1998) for children. Relationships across home and school (parent and caregiver) are amenable to intervention.

10 Enhancing Continuity through Relationships Intervention efforts must extend beyond a parent or educator focus, and embrace a shared mission, bi-directional communication, and mutual respect – emphasizing collaboration and co-equal decision-making among all participants –Establish role construct wherein parents are essential in learning and development early on –Build confidence (self-efficacy), and competence (skills, capacity) –Provide culturally sensitive, meaningful opportunities –Establish temporal continuity, or a pathway for continued participation and collaboration, across transition contexts and periods

11 Collaborative (Conjoint) Consultation A dynamic, empowering process wherein service providers and caregivers work jointly and cooperatively with each other vis a vis learning and developmental goals. Involves structured, supportive interactions, wherein a consultant, parent and educator engage in collaborative decision-making via 4 stages: 1.Needs/Problem identification 2.Needs/Problem analysis 3.Cross-system plan development and implementation 4.Cross-system plan evaluation -- Sheridan, Kratochwill, & Bergan (1996)

12 Goal: Promote academic, socioemotional, and behavioral outcomes for children through joint, mutual, cross-system planning Goal: Promote parent engagement within a developmental, culturally sensitive, systemic context Goal: Strengthen relationships between systems on behalf of children’s learning and development –Address the priorities and concerns regarding children’s learning and development –Strengthen social supports and promote collaboration among systems –Develop and enhance competencies and skills of parents and educators, including skills related to partnering across systems Collaborative (Conjoint) Consultation

13 Preliminary Study Research has shown the positive effects of conjoint consultation with elementary, middle, and secondary students (cf. Sheridan, Eagle, Cowan, & Mickelson, 2001). We are testing the effects of parent engagement (warmth/sensitivity; support for child’s autonomy; active participation across learning contexts) early in development (birth – 5). A preliminary study investigated the effects of one aspect of parent engagement – active participation through collaborative, cross-system (i.e., conjoint) consultation -- on aptitudes deemed important for school readiness: –Academic skills –Behavioral regulation –Social skills and positive peer relationships

14 Sample 48 children under the age of 6 (M=4.9) and their parents and early childhood educators 32% male; 77% Caucasian 66% enrolled in public preschool setting; 32% in Head Start; 2% in private preschools 73% of targets were behavioral; 19% were academic; 7% were social 14% lived in households with <$15K annual income; 13% spoke a language other than English in the home; 20% lived in single adult households

15 Consultation Procedures  Targets were identified for each child, and included behavioral regulation (e.g., “tantrums”), socioemotional (e.g., peer relations), and academic (e.g., letter recognition) goals.  Parents, teachers, and consultants met and jointly: identified a primary need, set goals specific to the child, co-constructed a plan to be implemented across home and school contexts, implemented the plan across settings, used data to determine attainment of goals, and recycled through the collaborative planning stages to address additional needs.  Parents and teachers were mutually responsible for assessing the child’s strengths and needs, implementing plans to address the needs, and evaluating progress toward goals.

16 Outcome Measures Direct Observations - conducted at home and school Parent-Teacher Relationship Scale II (PTRS-II) - collected to assess change in parent-teacher relationship (Vickers & Minke, 1995) –2 Factors: Joining and Communication to Other Social Validity Measures - collected to assess clinical meaningfulness of change –Acceptability of CBC- Assessed with the Behavioral Intervention Rating Scale (BIRS) - Acceptability factor (Elliott & Von Brock Treuting, 1991) –Perceived Effectiveness of CBC - Assessed with the Behavioral Intervention Rating Scale (BIRS) - Effectiveness factor (Elliott & Von Brock Treuting, 1991)

17 Analyses  A series of single subject designs were used to test the effects of CBC on individual cases, given unique target concerns, prioritized needs, and intervention plans.  General effectiveness of CBC on case outcomes was evaluated through Effect Size analysis (Busk & Serlin, 1992) Effect sizes in home and school settings for each case were computed to discern degree of behavior change as a function of CBC-based interventions across baseline and intervention conditions.  Effectiveness of CBC in strengthening the parent and teacher relationship was evaluated through paired sample t-tests for Joining, Communication to Other, and Total scores.  Perceptions of CBC effectiveness and acceptability were collected post-consultation and evaluated descriptively.

18 Results: Median Effect Sizes Across Home and School Settings

19 Parent PTRS Mean Ratings: Joining and Communication-to-Other * Ratings made on a scale of 1 (poor) – 5 (excellent). Paired sample t-tests were used to examine parents’ perceptions of their relationship with their child’s teacher pre- and post-test. A significant difference was found in communication following consultation (p <.01).

20 Teacher PTRS Mean Ratings: Joining and Communication-to-Other Ratings made on a scale of 1 (poor) – 5 (excellent). Paired sample t-tests were used to examine teachers’ perceptions of their relationship with the child’s parent. No significant differences were found between pre-consultation and post-consultation assessments

21 Parent and Teacher Social Validity Ratings (BIRS-R) Ratings were made on a scale of 1-6, where high scores denote greater levels of perceived effectiveness and acceptability.

22 Discussion Overall median effect sizes suggest large treatment effects. A high degree of variability in case outcomes suggests that CBC was more effective for some young children than others. CBC may provide a mechanism for parents to communicate more openly with their child’s teacher. The relational context promoted in CBC may enable increased communication from parent teacher. Neither parents nor teachers reported a significant change in joining with each other as a function of CBC. Elevated pre- consultation ratings suggest that parents and teachers may have believed that optimal levels already existed.

23 Consistent with previous research, parents and teachers reported high degrees of acceptance and effectiveness with CBC (based on BIRS-R scores). Ratings of effectiveness were relatively lower than acceptance, suggesting that something about the model was particularly acceptable to parents and teachers. Research is needed to: –identify relational variables that affect communication patterns, home-school partnerships, and child outcomes; –predict the effects of collaborative consultation on child and family outcomes at the transition to kindergarten and beyond; –determine the effect of consultation on parent’s role construct and self-efficacy, and the nature and scope of involvement over time and educational contexts. Discussion


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