Perspectives on the Purposes of Early Childhood Music Class: A Parent-Teacher Comparison
Studies across many disciplines have emphasized the importance of quality early childhood education (e.g. Schweinhart, Berrueta-Clement, Barnett, Epstein, & Weikart, 1985), including that of early childhood music education (e.g. Runfola, Etopio, Hamlen, & Rozendal, 2012). Another collection of research has shown the positive impacts of parental involvement on children’s educational attainment and achievement (e.g. Fan & Chen, 2001). This study, entitled “Perspectives on the Purposes of Early Childhood Music Class: A Parent-Teacher Comparison” aims to find the overlap in these two bodies of literature by examining parental involvement in early childhood music (ECM) classes. More specifically, the collected data will be used to identify the discrepancies in parent versus teacher understandings of ECM class objectives, particularly in relation to the role of the parent in the ECM classroom. Two researcher-designed surveys – one for teachers and one for parents – were distributed to ECM teachers through the Gordon Institute for Music Learning. These respondents were asked to complete the teacher survey and then distribute the parent survey to their program’s parent participants. To date, 56 parents and 30 teachers have responded, and data collection is still ongoing. Once the data is analyzed, it is hypothesized that parents will be more concerned with their child’s willingness to participate in class, whereas teachers will be more concerned with allowing each child to have freedom in the classroom. Similarly, it is expected that parents will be more concerned with keeping their child engaged, while teachers would prefer that parents continue their own engagement instead of trying to control the involvement of their child. This study aims to emphasize these (hypothesized) discrepancies so that ECM teachers can be made aware of the gaps in understanding between parents and teachers and subsequently begin to minimize these gaps. If a mutual understanding of objectives is accomplished, ECM teachers will be more readily able to foster participation, creativity, and comfortability in their music classrooms.
Sarah Hodgman is a current undergraduate at the University of Michigan who studies Sociology and Applied Statistics. Sarah works as a research assistant for the School of Music, and she teaches early childhood music classes through a local community music program. After completing her undergraduate degree, Sarah would like to join the Peace Corps as a “Youth in Development” volunteer. Upon return, Sarah plans to pursue graduate degrees in educational policy with the hopes of ensuring equitable education for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and geographic locations, particularly at the preschool level.