The University of the West Indies Press
Caribbean Journal of Mixed Methods Research Volume 1 Issue 1 Chapter 5
Sharline Cole
Caribbean Journal of Mixed Methods Research Volume 1 Issue 1 Chapter 5
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An Explanation of Students’ Cognitive and Social Skills at the Early Childhood Level: The Influence of Family Involvement

The family is the first agency of socialization, the primary caregiver and the first source of education for young children. This very important agent is indispensible to the process of maximizing the future well-being of children. Jamaica has a high percentage of single-parent-headed households, which in itself poses a challenge for effective parenting, necessary to ensuring positive psychosocial and educational outcomes. The support of the family is therefore critical to early childhood development. Epstein et al. (School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action (2002)) emphasize that the involvement of the family in children’s education influences the social, behavioural and academic outcomes of students. This sequential explanatory research seeks to investigate the impact of family involvement on students’ success at the early childhood level. A sample of two hundred and sixty parents completed questionnaires on parental and family involvement in the quantitative phase, while fifty-five participated in focus group discussions and interviews in the qualitative phase. The participants were drawn from all school types and locations representative of the Jamaican educational landscape. The findings of the study were as follows: (1) moderate family involvement, (2) correlation between students’ cognitive and social skills, (3) the number of hours parents spend with their children daily and weekly predict the involvement of families, (4) the challenges of being a single parent require the support of the extended family, and (5) family members contribute to students’ academic success by helping with homework and visiting the school for teacher–parent consultations in the absence of parents.

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