School Readiness: Insights from Low-income, African American Mothers

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Lilli Melero


Research has shown that low-income, African American children
are disproportionately at risk for not being ready for school. Children
who are unprepared for kindergarten are at risk of lifetime
disadvantages (e.g. school dropout, antisocial behavior, premature
parenting). Research also suggests that perceptions of
school readiness vary and that families and schools may have
different viewpoints on what constitutes school readiness. The
purpose of the research is twofold: First we examine to explore
parents’ perspectives of what school readiness means. Second,
we examine what parents are doing to promote their children’s
readiness for school. The study draws upon a series of in-depth
interviews with low-income, African American mothers of preschool
age children transitioning to kindergarten. Caregivers
were sampled from families using a Head Start program in an
inner-city neighborhood in Chicago. An interpretive approach
guides the analysis of the interviews. N-Vivo, a qualitative data
analysis program, will be used to aid in analysis and interpretation,
as well as data displays and memos. These strategies will
allow us to identify key themes and patterns among parents. The
study of school readiness will make substantive and applied contributions.
More specifically, the research will add new
knowledge on school readiness from the perspective of parents,
and elaborate on existing knowledge. Our findings will be particularly
relevant for preschools and elementary schools. These findings
will determine effective ways for schools and families to collaborate
to enhance children’s readiness for school.

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