Do young children perceive change in the daily lives of their families during participation in a therapeutic family support programme?

Kelly Baird*, Rebekah Grace

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This article reports on findings from longitudinal research that explored perceptions of family life for three- to five-year-old children whose families were participating in an intensive, therapeutic family support programme (N = 5) in a disadvantaged community in Sydney, Australia. There were two early childhood comparison groups, one comprising children attending a supported playgroup (N = 2), and another comprising children attending preschool (N = 10). Interviews guided by Ecocultural theory were conducted with each child at three time points to understand their perspectives on everyday home and family life and explore whether or not their perceptions changed over the course of programme involvement. Thematic analysis revealed differences in perceptions of home life for children attending the family support programme compared with comparison group children. In contrast to the family support programme children, comparison group children described moments of love and affection in the parent–child dyad, shared meal times as opportunities to connect as a family, and enjoyment of home learning activities such as shared book reading. On the other hand, siblings played a key role, particularly as play partners, in the home lives of family support programme children. Change over time was found in two of the five family support programme children’s descriptions of home life, such as increased parent–child play and having friends home to play. Little change over time was reflected in the accounts of family and home life for the comparison group children. This article argues for including children’s voices in research on parenting intervention and family support programmes, and including children’s perspectives as one important component in evaluating programme effectiveness.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)258-271
    Number of pages14
    JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
    Volume25
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2017

    Keywords

    • children’s perspectives
    • disadvantage
    • early childhood
    • Ecocultural child interview
    • home and family life
    • intervention programmes
    • qualitative

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