Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Despite positive effects of parent engagement on children's school success, prior research into parent engagement has relied almost exclusively on interactions by mothers and has not included fathers. The purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore the perspectives of preschool teachers regarding their engagement with fathers of children in their classrooms. The conceptual framework was Epstein's 6 types of parental involvement. Three research questions, regarding teachers' perspectives of father engagement, teachers' reported efforts to increase the engagement of fathers, and the barriers teachers describe in increasing fathers' engagement, form the basis of this study. This was a qualitative study using the interviews of 9 lead preschool teachers with at least 3 years' experience, who work with children 2 to 5 years old. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis following open coding of interview transcripts. Five themes emerged including the teachers' comfort level, communication preferences, limiting center perspectives, limiting teacher perspectives, and fathers' disengagement. Findings indicated that teachers felt uncomfortable with fathers and preferred to communicate with mothers, and father engagement was hampered by limiting assumptions by the center and by teachers, and by fathers' perceived lack of interest. This study presents implications for positive social change by suggesting that individual teachers can increase parent engagement by being more inclusive of fathers, including becoming more comfortable engaging fathers, communicating with fathers directly, and being open to fathers' engagement in a variety of ways. When fathers feel welcome in childcare settings, children benefit because both parents are working on the child's behalf.