Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Sandra Twardosz

Committee Members

Vey M. Nordquist, Rena Hallam, Sandra Thomas

Abstract

Parents are often advised to increase the amount of time spent with their preschool-age children because of the beneficial outcomes associated with positive parent-child interactions, and numerous programs exist to encourage and support this type of parent involvement. However, there is a paucity of information about whether and how parents manage and organize their time in a manner that facilitates parents’ interactions with children. Increasing home-based parent involvement is a federal mandate and central tenet of the Head Start program for low-income parents. One of the ways in which a local Head Start program encourages parent involvement is to offer weekly educational activities to families designed to be completed at home by parents and their children. The purpose of this study was to examine how a group of Head Start managed and organized their time in a manner that facilitated completion of these activities and the way in which other aspects of the home environment affected these efforts. Parents in this study (N =22) were diverse in terms of ethnicity, parenting status (grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers), employment status, marital status, and education. The constant-comparison method was used to analyze comments obtained during focus groups. Parents primarily discussed time management and organization in two ways: techniques and tools that helped them manage and organize time and the obstacles they faced in doing so. Parents also discussed alteration of the physical environment conducive to completing the activity, the benefit of social support, and the ways in which they acquired and maintained their child’s engagement in the activity. Knowledge about such time management strategies may be utilized by programs hoping to increase home-based parental involvement. This study contributes to the current dearth of information that exists about low-income family time management and organization.

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