“Some parents have a very strong view on whether their children have access to any technology”: How early childhood teachers respond to and manage the digital technology expectations of families

Year: 2018

Author: Schriever, Vicki

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Digital technologies are ubiquitous in modern society and are used in numerous contexts including in family life and early childhood education and care and yet the use of information communication technologies with and by young children continues to explicit strong reactions with both advocates and opponents voicing their perspectives on the benefits or detriments of digital technologies in the life of the young child. This paper reports on a PhD study undertaken by the author to investigate how early childhood teachers understand and manage their changing role regarding ICT in the context of their kindergarten setting.
A grounded theory methodology has been used to derive meaning and gain insights from the data generated from interviewing nineteen practicing early childhood teachers. Grounded theory moves beyond mere description, towards the development of a substantive theory, one which is discovered, rigorously developed and provisionally verified through the means of systematic data collection and analysis (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). The theories that emerge are grounded in data from the participants and this enables participants’ voices to be represented in the findings. To hear the voices of early childhood teachers and to learn from their experiences, semi-structured, in-depth interviews were undertaken with nineteen practising early childhood teachers from nineteen different kindergartens.
Respecting, acknowledging and valuing the role of the family in the life of the child are a central tenant of early childhood education and care. This paper will share key findings from the study focusing on how early childhood teachers navigate and respond to families digital technology expectations, manage parental concerns and educate and reassure parents about how digital technologies are used in kindergarten. Participants in this study shared the challenges they had encountered with families as a result of digital technologies being an inclusive feature of the kindergarten program and the measures they took to manage these situations. Analysis of the data also revealed that early childhood teachers use digital technologies to communicate with families and to foster and strengthen family relationships. The findings from this research can be shared and utilised to gain greater understanding and insights into how early childhood teachers and families can work in partnership together to effectively utilise and manage digital technologies.