Encouraging parental guidance for young children’s learning in science through an outreach program in playgroups

Leonie Rennie, Christine Howitt

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle in specialist publicationpeer-review


This article explores the impact of an outreach program into community playgroups on parents’ role in promoting young children’s (3-4 years old) engagementwith science. We employed a mixed-method research design to study parents’ perceptions of the impact of their participation in a science-based outreach programon their awareness of the everyday nature of science, and their inspiration and confi dence to engage with their children in science. Data were of two kinds: a baselinequestionnaire administered immediately after the outreach program to 465 parentsand observation of 15 parents with their children during the program, followed byinterviews at one or two weeks and seven weeks after the program. Quantitativeand qualitative analyses of this combination of coarse- and fi ne-grained data suggested that even though parents were initially interested in science and comfortable supporting their child’s play, they believed that participation in the scienceoutreach program enhanced their understanding of how their child learned. Parentsbecame more aware of their child’s interest in science, the everyday opportunitiesfor learning science through play, and began to seek opportunities to promote science-related experiences with their child. Implications are drawn for how informalscience educators can assist parents to understand their role in encouraging children’s explorations in science
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationInternational Journal of Informal Science and Environmental Learning
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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