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    Nurturing sense and sensibilities, engaging with parents locally and globally

    Needham, MD and Jackson, D (2016) Nurturing sense and sensibilities, engaging with parents locally and globally. In: European Early Childhood Education Research Conference, 31 August 2016 - 03 September 2016, Dublin. (Unpublished)


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    This research compares and contrasts international policies on early childhood, dual-focused service models in which parents and young children participate together. Drawing on current international discourses related to parent engagement in learning in the early years (OECD, 2012). This paper builds on earlier qualitative, doctoral research studies (Jackson and Needham, 2014). An Ecological perspective and Cultural-Historical Activity Theory are used to shed light on what parents experience as supportive in these dual-focused contexts and eight categories of support are used to frame a comparative discussion of policy directions. Qualitative critical discourse analysis of policy documents and related reports are used to consider how parental engagement strategies respond to the needs of parents. The foundation studies for the research were closely monitored as part of doctoral studies. The documentary analysis emphasises the ethical framing of support for parents. Limited take up of the Can-parent programme in England is contrasted with Australian supported play groups where the benefits of friendship and social network support, relational support, peer support, emotional support are emphasised. The article discusses the importance of developing shared understandings about nurture, support and engagement amongst parents and practitioners in dual-focused settings as a way of making hard to reach provision more accessible.

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