Parents' beliefs about appropriate education for young children


Deborah Stipek


Sharon Milburn


Darlene Clements


Denise H. Daniels

Year of Publication: 
Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology

Parents of 551 children in their last year of preschool or in kindergarten completed a questionnaire on their beliefs about appropriate ways to teach basic skills to youngchildren and on the learning-related activities they engaged in with their children at home. A factor analysis revealed that parents varied in terms of a coherent set of beliefs related to teaching basic skills that correspond to the debate among early childhood experts on “child-centered” versus didactic teaching approaches. Parents who embraced didactic, teacher-directed approaches which emphasized performance chose schools that were compatible with their beliefs. They also claimed to engage in relatively more formal teaching activities (e.g., flashcards, workbooks) with their children at home and less informal activities (e.g., reading to their child) than parents who were opposed to didactic teaching. Poorly educated parents evidenced stronger support for didactic methods than well-educated parents. The strong relationships between parents' beliefs and behavior suggest that parent training would be an effective way to influence the learning environment of youngchildren.

APA Citation

Stipek, D., Milburn, S., Clements, D., Daniels, D. (1992). Parents' beliefs about appropriate education for young children. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 13(3), 293-310.