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Title: "I would question my role if I felt that mothering wasn't a part of it" : mother practitioners' empathetic contributions to Early Childhood Education and Care
Author: Uwins, Janet
ISNI:       0000 0004 5372 2648
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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Throughout the last forty years, policy and practice in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) in England has increasingly demanded a strong and reciprocal partnership with parents. Family policy has become intertwined with ECEC policy with the drive to instil a standardised model of good parenting to facilitate the eradication of child poverty. As a result, ECEC practitioners have a responsibility to support good parenting; however, a uniform model of parenting does not reflect the socio-economic and cultural constructs of contemporary family life. The personal and professional roles of caring for babies and young children are naturally closely aligned, and many ECEC practitioners are parents themselves. This study investigated this perception, and asked the question: ‘How might ECEC practitioners’ experiences of mothering influence and inform their working practice with parents?’ The research offers a psychosocial theoretical framework that embraces social theory alongside concepts from science that address the nature of close relationships. Seven mother practitioners, working in a range of professional roles within the ECEC sector, responded to in-depth e-mail interviews to describe their personal experiences of mothering and how these were translated in their professional roles with parents. By applying a constructivist grounded theory method of analysis, the findings highlighted the participants’ mothering of their own children to be a natural and instinctive process highly influenced by their social and cultural worlds. Such a view conflicts with political rhetoric that supports a uniform model of good parenting. An empathetic approach was used when supporting parents, and through attentive listening, mother practitioners were able to combine personal experience with their professional theoretical knowledge and experience to tailor support and meet the needs of families. The thesis concludes that the mother practitioners placed an intrinsic value on being a parent within their working roles, when combined with professional knowledge and experience facilitated empathetic relationships with parents. The study suggests that recognition is needed of the value of personal experiences, which can be capitalised upon more in ECEC policy and practice in order to respect contemporary constructs of family. Suggestions for further professional development, research and dissemination of the research findings are offered.
Supervisor: Page, Jools Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available