Date of Award

8-7-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Rosalyn Darling, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kay Snyder, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Susan Boser, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Richard J. Fiene, Ph.D.

Abstract

The education of children has been a long-standing issue for stakeholders over numerous years. Various literatures recommend that formal learning should begin during the preschool years of a child’s life, and must include home-school partnerships. Empirical data has shown that parents and teachers who work together can positively impact a child’s success in school. This study sought to gain insight into the phenomenon of parent-teacher interactions in preschools, via the lens of symbolic interaction. A comparative case study method between two private preschools with different quality ratings was used. Parent and teacher interviews were conducted prior to conferences to learn existing perspectives (i.e. the definition of the situation) of their relationships; then parent-teacher conferences were observed; subsequently, post-conference interviews were conducted to learn if perspectives had changed. After interactional and thematic data analysis, results revealed that parents and teachers at both preschools show positive ways in which to foster good parent-teacher relationships, notwithstanding quality ratings and other distinct differences. But similarities in family values, faith, respect, and programming at both preschools facilitated dialogue that brought dignity to parent-teacher interactions.

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