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Family involvement in life skills development of learners in a primary school
Spamer, Christina Johanna
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The purpose of this research was to determine how families can become more involved in the life skills development of learners in a primary school (Grades 1–7). I observed and experienced how society, parental involvement and the children’s life skills changed over a period of time at this specific school from where I conducted my research. So I ventured on an unpredictable but exciting journey to investigate how extrafamilial processes like peers, neighbourhood, the economic system and overarching beliefs and values influenced the families, the life skills families taught their children at home and families’/parents’ involvement in life skills development done at school. I also aimed to determine how parents/families could become more involved in the life skills development of learners in this specific primary school, with life skills both an academic school subject and those skills necessary to enable children to cope with everyday life and its challenges. I worked within a qualitative research design, focusing on understanding and describing families’ involvement in life skills development. Because I wanted to understand the human action of families’ involvement in life skills development, I worked within the interpretive paradigm, using the hermeneutic phenomenological approach. I used observation, semi-structured interviews, focus group interviews and document analysis in my search to understand and describe the phenomenon of life skills education in this particular school community. Analytic autoethnography was my method of choice as I am a teacher at the school under survey. I discovered that there were a considerable number of barriers that prevented families from becoming more involved (or sometimes even become involved at all) in the development of the life skills of their primary school children. These barriers included immigrant families, domestic violence, unsafe neighbourhoods in which some learners grow up, financial hardship and grandparents who have to raise their grandchildren. When I made suggestions at the end of the study on how parental involvement might be supported and improved, it was necessary to involve the school, community, other parents and supportive services in a team effort to assist families to become more involved in the life skills development of their children. It truly takes a village to raise a child
- Education