How parents engaged and inspired their young children to learn science in the later years: a story of 11 immigrant parents in Australia

Sarika Kewalramani, Sivanes Phillipson, Nish Belford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Parents’ beliefs, values and associated everyday practices can play an influential role in their children’s educational environment. This paper reports on a subsection of data from a larger qualitative study on how immigrant parents’ cultural beliefs, values and everyday practices contributed to shaping their young children’s early engagement in science learning. Parents in the study were asked to reflect upon their past familial experiences before migrating to Australia. Drawing on Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory, the parental role is considered as being the ‘more knowledgeable other’ in the child’s everyday home environment, whereby interactions with children are rooted in parents’ beliefs, sociocultural values and future aspirations for their children’s science career pursuits. By conducting semi-structured interviews with 11 immigrant parents, this study maps the conditions and science engagement opportunities that inspire children to study science in the future. The results focus on how everyday interactions and activities that parents indulge in with their children at an early age through to primary schooling are foregrounded in parents’ own cultural beliefs and values. Parental aspirations for their children to study science at school consciously or unconsciously develop children’s science aptitude. This study contributes to the theoretical knowledge and calls for parent–school collaboration practices in early childhood science education to understand the familial sociocultural practices of immigrant children.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalResearch in Science Education
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Children’s science engagement
  • Parental aspirations
  • Parents’ cultural beliefs
  • Science career development

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