This paper aims, to develop a research-based study on the impact of full time occupational engagements of parents outside the home, on the development of their children. The importance of childhood care cannot be underestimated because of its immense impact on the development an individual. Researchers consider childhood care as the most important aspect for the development of optimistic attitude and constructive skills in an individual .
The brain of a young child is almost one quarter of the size of an adult, and the development of brain is restricted to the function of stimulation, resulted from retrieved information and environmental factors. This conceives the development of senses that includes sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. Children or young individuals who are brought up in a positive and constructive environment are more likely to develop into responsible persons with optimistic self-image. (Bijou, 1961)
Early childhood is the quickest stage of development in a human being’s lifespan. Development, both physical and emotional, is a lifelong process which commences from the early childhood and follows an identical path for every individual. The development of a child depends profoundly on his/her early learning experiences. (Law, 2002). The development of an individual child progresses in accordance with the specific capabilities of a particular child. The key to success in childcare is to be vigilant and learn about the child’s aptitude and priorities, so that they can be nurtured in the most effectual way (Humphry, 2006).
The process of child development and learning has been explained by numerous psychologists and field researchers, and a number of theoretical models have been presented on this subject that elucidates the child development processes (Bijou S. , 1993).
Erik Erikson proposes a theory that focuses on the psychological stages of the entire human lifespan, from birth to death (Pomerantz, 2007). It says that the personality development of a young child is influenced by early experience and family relationships. (Bradley, 2002) At each stage, children face a developmental crisis that serves as a major turning point (Davis, 2002). A child, in every stage of its development, focuses on tasks that must be accomplished to successfully navigate life's challenges. The stages involved in this theory are, Trust vs. Mistrust (infant), Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (toddlerhood), Initiative vs. Guilt (preschooler), Industry vs. Inferiority (young adolescent), Identity vs. Confusion (adolescent), Intimacy vs. isolation (young adulthood), Generativity vs. stagnation (middle adulthood), and Ego integrity vs. despair (old age) (Coster, 1998).
Another theory concerning the psychological development of children has been presented by Jean Piaget, which illustrates the various cognitive stages of child development. The central idea of Piaget's theory is that, children understand the customs and the norms of the world and get adjusted into it by the processes of assimilation, accommodation, and familiarity with the daily conduct of life. The first stage delineated in this theory is the Sensorimotor Stage (birth to age 2), where the child develops an understanding of the world with the support of sensory experiences such as reflections, instinctive actions, and symbolic thoughts etc (Davis, 2002). The Preoperational Stage (age 2 to 7) is the stage where young children begin to analyze their surrounding environment, and display feelings with the support of words and images, and apply these symbols in their everyday lives (Humphry, 2008). In the Concrete Operational Stage (ages 7 to 12), the cognitive development of children commences, and is marked by adolescent reasoning dominating the idealistic and logical thought process (Grolnick, 1994). The Formal Operational Stage (ages 11 to 12 and thereafter) is the stage where a child will develop the ability to respond to the incidents in his life in a comparatively mature mode with the support of abstract concepts (Humphry, 2002).
Another prominent theory in childcare and development is the Vygotsky socio-cultural cognitive theory. It concentrates on cognitive behavior and information processing (Hill N. E., 2004). It could be defined as a theory with a focus on socio-cultural cognitive behavior and information processing. This theory emphasizes that children learn through hands-on experience with the aid of timely and sensitive intervention by adults, who help the child in the learning of new tasks (Hill N. E., 2003).
The developmental Milestones theory suggests that the learning ability of children, evolve with their age and they acquire new talents when they fall under different age brackets. One example of learning under this theory is the act of walking that is being learnt by an infant in the age between 9 and 12 months (Network, 2003). The stages involved in this theory are Physical Milestones, Cognitive Milestones, Social and Emotional Milestones, and Communication Milestones (Hill, 2004).
The theory which offers a distinct dimension to child developmental concepts, is the controversial psychosexual stages theory proposed by Sigmund Freud. This theory is based on the degree of attention paid by a child on the different erogenous zones at specific stages (NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2005). It further proffers that inability to develop the sensations result into static progression of child development (Lawlor, 2003). The stages involves in this theory are The Oral Stage, The Anal Stage, The Phallic Stage, The Latent Stage and The Genital Stage (Loeb, 2004).
The development of children on moral grounds has been presented in the theory of Lawrence (Melhuish, 2009). The development phases are categorised into three phases of development that can then be broken down further into six stages (Primeau, 2000). The phases involved in this theory are Preconventional Morality, Conventional Morality and Postconventional Morality (Spitzer, 2003).
Thus, it can be concluded that a single theory cannot possibly address all the characteristics and related questions of personality development of the child. However, research has established that the personality development of children is profoundly impacted by parent's involvement (Marsiglio, 1991). Hence, parental engagement with children can be considered as the primary element for sustainable growth and development of the child. The interactions of parent with children aids in optimal social and behavioural development of children
A parent can analyze the progress of the child and in the process contribute to the education and personality development of the child, by monitoring some basic day-to-day activities of their children. This includes monitoring of the child’s out of school activities, social etiquette, and self discipline management (Loeb, 2007).
The occupational engagement of a parent is a necessity, to serve the financial needs of the family and for providing better health, education, and financial well being to the child. The percentage of occupational engagement of parents in America, have sharply boosted in the previous decade (Love, 2003). Unfortunately, the rising cost of living has compromised the quality time spent by parents with their children, as they have to put in long hours of employment and associated obligations, such as long commutes and phone and internet communications. Thus when parent spend limited time with the children their development is more often than not negatively impacted. (Law, 2002)
Also, Mooney et al suggest that family breakdown negatively impacts children. According to them, children of single parent families exhibit different development outcomes than the children from nuclei families, in areas such as social competence, mental health, long-term health, educational achievement, self-concept, and behaviour. (Mooney et al., 2009) The research aims to test the effect of, occupational engagement and marital status of the parents, in childcare quality and development.
Purpose of Study
The purpose of the study is to measure the impact, the occupational engagement of parents, have on childcare and child development. As discussed at length in the literature review, a child’s development is at its best during the first few years of his life span, and unfortunately, today’s material needs have forced the time spent by parents with their children to shrink. Most parents compensate this by taking external child care help. The aim of this research is to measure the effect these practices, which are a modern necessity, has on the quality of care received by the child and also to find out, if this impact is greater in a single parent household.
Refined Research question
- How does the occupational engagement of the parents and their marital status, affect the childcare and development of their children?
For our research purpose both secondary data and primary data were collected. The secondary data was availed from census data, demographic statistics and online databases. Data was also collected from child care facilities, government departments and research articles published in journals and newspapers.
Primary data was collected through questionnaire based interviews conducted among a randomly selected sample. The questions were directed at parents of children belonging to the age group 2-10. The interview was conducted both in person and through mail, in some cases.
H1 - Occupational engagement of both parents negatively impacts the childcare quality
H2 - There are differences in the developmental outcomes of children of single parent families and nuclear families
Data Analysis Techniques
The data will be quantitatively and qualitatively analyzed. The quantitative analysis will be done using the SPSS software, and the qualitative analysis would be done using the Nvivo software. The appropriate statistical tests will be used according to the variables measured.
The nominal values are tested using a Chi-square test and the ordinal variables are tested using a Kruskal Wallis Test. A Chi-square test is used to measure the relationship between various categorical variables. It is defined as the goodness of fit, between a group of observed variables and the variables that are expected theoretically. A Kruskal Wallis test is a one-way variance analysis, used to determine whether the samples observed originate from the same distribution.
In total 150 parents, who have children belonging to the age group of 2-10, were interviewed for this study. Parents selected were from the Newark Unified School District. This district was selected because it has eleven schools and has a good mix of population consisting of various ethnic groups and income levels. Out of the parents interviewed, 45 were single parents and the rest belonged to nuclei families. 98% of the parents interviewed are enjoying the services of an outside child care facilities.
The researcher contacted Ms. Nidia Sanchez-Rico of the Newark Unified School District Child Care Program, to obtain the list of child care facilities. The following list of centres was obtained.
The researcher then contacted each child care centre in the list, and through them a letter of request was distributed to the parents. The interested parents were shortlisted and grouped based on ethnicity, religion, income level, geography, to obtain as representative a sample as possible. The main classification done was to divide them based on their marital status. Once the 150 parents were selected they were given the consent form (Appendix B). After the parents gave their consents, they were provided with the questionnaire (Appendix A). The interview was conducted both in person and through email. The questions were explained and translated wherever necessary, and the observations made and the body language of the parents were recorded.
Questionnaire is the basic instrument used in this study. A questionnaire is a collection of questions, which aims at eliciting responses form a selected sample. Questionnaire can be structured and unstructured, and for our research purpose we will use a combination of both. This instrument was selected because of its ease of use and because the standardized questions make it simple to compile data.
The internal threat to validity of the research is that, since the children are still too young, their development is a process in progress and most parents do rate their children to be well developed. Also, the employees of the child care facilities of the children were not questioned, who having observed the children from close quarters, will be able to give more insights into their development and the quality of the child care received by them.
The external threat to validity is that the sample selected is from a specific geography, and may not be representative of the entire population. Also, there are many confounding variables, such as the children’s school facilities, peer group, and the intelligent quotient of the child, which also affects the child’s development and care received.
Step by Step process
- Deciding on the research topic
- Collecting relevant literature on the selected topic
- Finalizing the research questions
- Consulting with the project supervisor and obtaining feedback
- Analysis of the secondary data and formulating the hypotheses
- Preparing the initial draft
- Discussion with the supervisor
- Deciding the sampling design
- Formulating the questionnaire
- Conducting a pilot study
- Correct and fine-tune the questions based on the pilot study
- Get the consent from parents
- Conducting the interview
- Recording the data and measuring the variables
- Analyzing the variables using proper statistical techniques
- Preparing the final report.
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- What is your total number of working hours in a week?
- How does the following features of child care quality are impacted due to your occupational engagement
- Health Environment
- Quality Food
- Educational activities
- Entertainment trip
- Rate the quality of the child care received by your children
- Excellent (Healthy, safe and scheduled)
- Good (Healthy and Safe)
- Satisfactory (Casual)
- When at home, are you mostly occupied with your job related activities?
- What are the educational activities you do together with your children?
- What among the following best describe your family?
- Single Parent family
- Nuclear Family
- Rate the development of your child in the following areas
- Reading skills
- Analytical skills
- Logical and reasoning skills
- Rate the development of your child in the following areas
- Interaction with others
- Ethical consciousness
- Has the child been affected by the nature of your marital status, if yes, in what ways?
- Do you find your child to be disadvantaged in terms of his/ her personality and academic development due to the nature of your family?
I volunteer to participate in the research conducted by on I have been informed about the research objectives and I understand that the study is undertaken for academic purposes. I will be one of the 150 people interviewed and my participation in this project is voluntary. I also understand that the interview is being taped for reference purposes and I may withdraw from the interview any time I choose to, without attracting penalty. I agree to be interviewed for 30 -45 minute and I understand that the interviewer will identify me by name when quoting my interview in his works. I have read and understood the clauses of this consent form and I voluntarily agree to participate in this interview.