Robbins, Russell E.
M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of Early Childhood
Education, Preschool||Home and school
Since June 1965, a national program of preschool compensatory education known as Project Head Start has been supported by the federal government and administered jointly by the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington and by a local sponsoring agency in each community. This study was an attempt to assess the attitudes of the parents of children who attended Project Head Start, Waukegan, Illinois, in the summer of 196$, toward that project by asking them how they felt about* their children's experiences in Project Head Start} the location of the school; and their opinions of the teachers. The parents were also asked about any contacts they might have had with Project Head Start through employment at the school, home visits, conferences, or attendance at parent meetings. An attempt was also made to find out what these parents felt the attitude of the staff of Project Head Start was toward them. It should be noted here that the Waukegan Project Head Start had a paid staff of twenty-eight. Twenty-five of this staff were high school students who served as teachers of the children in the Waukegan Project Head Start. The other three staff members were experienced, certified teachers; one was the director of the program and the other two supervised the high school students. In this study "teacher" is used to mean one of the high school students who served as teachers. While these students had no training in teaching they were the teachers in this program and were so considered by the children and the parents. One parent from each of fifteen families was chosen by random sampling from tee 103 families with children who had attended Project Head Start. The interviewer need open-ended questions and an unstructured interview. The questions concentrated on five general areas: 1. The relationship of the child to the school. 2. The parents' opinions of the location of the school. 3. Any attempts the school had made to enlist the aid of the parents in running the school and how the parents felt about working with the school. 4. Any contacts the parents might have had with the school in the form of conferences, parent meetings, or home visits. 5. The parents' opinions of the teachers. As a check on the verbal administration of the questionnaire, a card with three value statements about Project Head Start was given to each respondent. He was asked to indicate which statement most nearly reflected his own feelings. All fifteen of the parents said that their children had liked Project Head Start. Thirteen parents thought that their children had been helped by the program. Hone of the parents interviewed had ever worked with tee program. Two had been asked but had been unable to accept. AH fifteen respondents said they would like to work in a future program if they were not otherwise employed or if they had a baby sitter for their younger children. Nine of tee parents attended at least one parent meeting but only five of these talked with their children's teachers. Two of the parents had received home visits and none of them had had a conference. Because of the very limited contacts which the parents had with the staff of the Waukegan Project Head Start, the validity of their opinions of the teachers is questionable. Eleven parents felt that the teachers were qualified but this seemed to reflect the high degree of parental acceptance of the program rather than an informed opinion. The parents* contacts with the teachers had been too meager for them to have perceived how the teachers felt toward them. In addition, whatever feelings the parents had on this point, they did not communicate them. The opinions of the parents toward the Waukegan Project Head Start, as reported in this study, reflect a large amount of general good will toward and acceptance of Project Head Start. That these favorable attitudes of the parents toward Project Head Start were not capitalized upon, so that more of the parents could have been participants in the program, is to be lamented. The following recommendations were made: 1. Each class of children in a Project Head Start should be taught by a certified teacher who has had training in early childhood education and in home-school relations. 2. So that communication can be improved between the parents and Project Head Start and so that the parents can become more involved in the program: a. a home visit should be made by the child's teacher before he comes to school. (In this case "teacher" means the certified teacher which is recommended in item 1.) b. regular conferences should be scheduled for each child's parents. c. provisions for baby sitting should be made so that more mothers could attend parent meetings and participate in the Project Head Start program. d. efforts should be made to have parents participate in Project Head Start both as volunteers and as paid employees.
Gilman, Ann Coombs, "A study of the attitudes of parents toward Project Head Start in Waukegan, Illinois" (1966). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 700.
ix, 46 pages
Northern Illinois University
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