The role of the mother as a para-professional helper in the pre-school setting
The present study compared deployment of working—class mothers, teachers and nursery nurses in day—to—day activities in pre—school set— tings. Naturalistic observation was used in two pre—schools run on free—play lines located in socially deprived areas. Mothers were observed in the room their "Own" children attended. Teachers and mothers were studied alone and with the other present in order to discover the extent to which the presence of one affects the behaviour of the other. Time spent by mothers in direct contact; indirect contact, dealing with equipment, interaction with adults and not involved was compared with that spent by the other two groups. Direct and indirect contact were analysed at two different levels: (a) all time mothers spent with chil— dren was considered, (b) time spent with "Own" children was disregarded. Significantly larger within group differences were observed for mothers when compared with teachers and nursery nurses in direct contact and no activity. Significant differences in direct contact were observed for mothers compared with the other two groups. Significant differences in direct contact were due to: (a) wider within group differences for the group of mothers than nursery nurses; (b) more time spent by teachers than mothers. Time spent involved in no activity showed: (a) signifi— cantly more varied behaviour than teachers, (b) significantly more time than nursery nurses. Behaviours observed for mothers appeared to be influenced by how they became involved; those invited by teachers show— ing more time with the children and less not involved. It was also found that teachers spent little time with "Own" children (large within group differences were found). However, teacher—"Own" child interaction was found to be somewhat lessened for some children due to the presence of the mothers. Mothers in both conditions spent significantly more time with their "Own" children than teachers and nursery nurses.