Factors influencing parents involvement in children’s academic achievement in early childhood education in Nigeria
Background of the Study
Early childhood education encompasses all forms of education that pertains to learning of children between ages zero to five years (0-5years). In other words, it involves schooling for young children beginning at age zero who intended to prepare them for primary school (Caldwell, 1999). Universally, there is no one definition of early childhood education. Early childhood education is more of a social intervention, where the children learn how to interact with their peer and learn from each other. It therefore follows that all societies have specific aims about raising and educating their children. In effect, most societies care about early childhood education. However, every society has its individual arrangements for such childcare and education that tend to be culturally, historically specific and varied. It is in the light of this that coined the term educare to help widen the scope. Educare is a quality early childhood education that combine the best of childcare, preschool and family supports to help low-income children ages birth to five grow up eager to learn and ready for school (Bowman, Donor and Burn, 2001). It aims to take the best early childhood study from the lab to the classroom through development of a network of excellence. The new expansion of childhood education now includes the child minding centers for infants, nursery schools and kindergarten. Internationally, educare or childcare in a group setting could be offered in a crèche, day care, or childcare centers, nursery and kindergarten schools.
Early childhood is a period of rapid growth which Obiweluozo (2012), defined as foundation period of life, a period that holds the key to the overall maximum development of a child. Therefore, early childhood stage is the foundation for a better future. Early childhood education is a period characterized by different forms of activities by children such as playing with toys, running around, jumping up and down, walking, catching, kicking, curious and explorative in nature, they learn very easily through play (Maduike, Maduike and Ekeh, 2013). Similarly, Papalia and Feldman (2011) noted that the early childhood children are full of questions such as; who filled the river with water? Do smalls come from inside my nose? Why do people have too eyes? among others. In other to give reasonable answer to satisfy the curiosity and to give proper care and education to the children, there is need for early childhood education, where the professional takes care of the children and give room for exploration of the environment to discover things on their own. According to the Nigerian National Policy on Education (NPE) (FRN, 2004) early childhood education is the education given in an educational institution to children prior to their entering the primary school. Early childhood education includes the crèche, the nursery and kindergarten. National Policy on Education (NPE), outlines the objectives of early childhood education to include: effecting a smooth transmission from the home to the school, preparing the child for the primary level of education, providing adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work, inculcating social norms, inculcating in the child the spirit of enquiry and creativity through the exploration of nature, the environment, art, music and playing with toys, developing a sense of co-operation and team spirit, and teaching the child the rudiments of numbers, letters, colors, shapes, forms through play (FRN, 2004: 3). The objectives of early childhood education reflect the philosophy, which specifies that early childcare environment has a tremendous influence on children’s development. As explained by Ibiam (2011), the education of young children must be organized and vigorously pursued through well-articulated programmes. This, according to Ibiam (2011) is because the nature of the education a child receives in the first five years of life is crucial for his/her overall development and later life chances. Maduewesi (2005) postulates that the care and support received by a child in terms of good health, nutrition and psychological care and protection are crucial in the formation and development of personality and social behaviour.
Similarly, good care during the early years is emphasized because children who receive good care during childhood age are more likely to benefit from later education and other social services (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund UNICEF, 1999). To actualize the objectives of childhood education as stipulated in the N.P.E, there should be provision of qualified childhood education schoolteachers that are also adequate in number. In childhood education schools in some states in Nigeria, the availability and adequacy of teachers in number and quality deserves investigation, as casual observation seems to suggest that there is gross inadequacy of teaching personnel both in quantity and in quality.
The National Policy on Education also provides that childhood schools should operate with a suitable curriculum. Curriculum is the totality of the environment in which education takes place, that is, the learner, the teachers, the content, the method, the physical and psychological environment (Anwuka, 2005). It could also refer to all the experiences a learner passes through in a learning situation and these many include individual outdoor activities, written, verbal physical and mental activities (Maduewesi, 2003). Curriculum is the document plan or blue print for instructional guide, which is used for teaching and learning to bring about positive and desirable learner behaviour change (Offorma, 2009).
Parents, who have been considered as one of the stakeholders of the school community, play tremendous roles in children’s education. Among the many tenets of the educational reform efforts is the idea that (PI) is an essential element in children’s academic achievement and social adjustment (Jeynes, 2012). Parental involvement according to Miksic (2015) can be broadly defined as the ways in which parents support their children’s education in word and deed. Parents can be involved in the school setting or at home. Prominent aspects of PI at home include discussion of school activities, parental aspirations and expectations, checking homework, parenting style, home roles and supervision. At school prominent aspects of PI include contacting school personnel, attending parents, teacher organisations (PTO), and volunteering at school (Shote, Hansen, Underwood and Razzoole, 2011 as well as Dearing, McCartney and Weiss, 2006). Student achievement is most commonly defined by report cards and grades, enrolment in advanced classes, attendance and staying in school, and improved behaviour (Henderson and Mapp, 2002).
Research has shown that there is correlation between PI and academic achievement. Sheldon and Epstein (2005) conducted a study to determine if a correlation existed between PI and children’s performance on Mathematics achievement tests in 18 schools in Ohio, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Kansus and Califonia. They established that learning-at-home-activities linked consistently with improvement on Maths achievement tests. Children who worked with their parents at home on Mathematics homework achieved better Mathematics grades (Bartel, 2010).
Schools are developing programs aimed at reaching out to parents in hopes of improving the relationship that exists between school and families of learners. Parents are already involved as primary teachers of their children as soon as they are born, and it makes sense to continue involving them in the formal education of their children (Liu and Liu, 2000). They are the children’s first teachers and have a life-long influence on children’s values and aspirations. In the United States of America evidence of PI in education exists both at home and within the school. According to Echaune, Ndiku and Sang (2015) The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 recognizes parents’ involvement and empowerment in determining the quality of teaching and learning processes in schools