Father involvement is very important in children’s language development, cognitive development, psychological well-being, social and emotional development. It is also known that father involvement associated with long-term positive consequences on the part of children regarding partner choice, marital satisfaction and parenting behaviors.
Father involvement in education was found to be positively associated with children’s academic achievement and negatively related with children’s early school drop-outs which is one of the main aim of European Union. However , since parent involvement is equated with mother involvement in many cultures and fathers are assumed to be difficult to recruit for parent involvement activities, father involvement in education is lower than the mother involvement. This situation comes into focus more in early childhood education because of traditional roles associated with fathers and mothers.
Early childhood education interested in young children and mothers are thought to be the primary caregiver for younger children all around the world and also in many European countries while fathers are expected to provide their families. This traditional gender role attitudes leads pre-schools to overemphasize the involvement of mothers while spending insufficient effort to involve fathers.
Although there are studies related with the importance of father involvement, parent involvement activities that are organized based on the work schedules of both parents (Fagan & Palm, 2004), staff’s positive attitudes toward fathers’ involvement (Palm & Fagan, 2008) and formal fatherhood initiatives (Raikes & Belotti, 2006) increases fathers’ involvement into early childhood education settings. Although these valuable information, father involvement in early childhood programs is “still a relatively new phenomenon” and it should be supported by all adults including “mothers and teachers,if their (fathers’) level of involvement is to increase”. (Palm & Fagan, 2008,p.748).
This project, therefore, aims to increase father involvement through supporting all adults in early childhood education settings, i.e. teachers, mothers and also fathers.Almost in all European countries, parent involvement in education is equated with mother involvement. Mothers are seen as the primary caregiver for young children while fathers are assummed as provider. This is also one of the reason for why early childhood education area is a female dominated one. In female-dominated settings, fathers do not feel comfortable while communicating teachers and also teachers feel more comfortable while communicating with mothers. Therefore there is a need to increase early childhood educators’ competencies to involve fathers in their children’s early childhood education.
The main aim of this project, then, is providing resources for teachers to use while organizing parent involvement activities that does not exclude fathers rather attracting their attention, supporting their high involvement and creating an early childhood setting in which father involvement is a “norm” rather than an expectation.In this project this aim will be reached through two intellectual outputs: Father Involvement Guide and Handbook of Father Involvement. The former is prepared to inform early childhood educators about the importance of father involvement and the ways to create a father-friendly early childhood settings while the latter is prepared for teachers to include father-centered parent involvement activities in their educational programs.
Since this project is a shared work of Sweden, Netherlands and Turkey and all intellectual outputs will be prepared in Swedish, Dutch, English and Turkish, it is believed that outputs of this project will be used effectively in all European countries effectively to increase fathers’ involvement in early childhood education settings.