Exploring parents’ perceptions about their preschool child’s learning and development and their role to support it in the context of Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy in Education


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


World leaders have recognized that learning and development begins long before schooling. As such, global policies such as the MDGs and SDGs have been directing global, national and local agendas for ‘quality’ early child development (ECD) provision. Pakistan being a global signatory for ECD initiatives has made steps in reform efforts. In Pakistan’s efforts to meet global ECD targets, efforts continue to gain popularity among policy makers for better ECD provisions (Khan, 2018). A challenge that remains is how to safeguard a child’s context from losing its identity within international agendas. Families are a child’s first context for learning and development. As such, parents are important stakeholders for ECD. This exploratory study within a qualitative paradigm aimed to shed light on parents’ perspectives of early learning and development, and of their perceived role towards supporting this kind of learning and development for their child. Data was collected from an urban preschool. Most children in this not-for-profit institute come from lower or middle socio-economic backgrounds. Six families of preschool age children contributed to the study. These included a father, a mother and a child from each family sampled. Three families were from middle SES backgrounds, attending the morning school shift, and three families were from low SES families, attending the afternoon shift. Purposive sampling was used, where one section from each of the classes was selected. One family was picked randomly for each class, from all those who agreed to participate in the study. Data were collected through individual-parent interviews, solicitation of their drawings, parent-child interaction observations during children’s play and post-observation interviews. Interviews were transcribed and textually analysed to identify themes and patterns in order to respond to research questions defined for the study. Data show that parents possess a depth of understanding about early learning and development. Though unique, all the parents have their own understanding of child development and early learning. Their perceptions are based on their own childhood experiences, their daily interactions with their children and evolving trends about ECD. All the participants recognize the significance of early years as a base for a child’s future outcomes and perceive nature and nurture to support this. Findings reveal that all the parents extend the best possible support to their child, however, their approaches might differ. SES and global expectations emerge as key factors influencing parents’ pathway from putting perspective into action. Moreover, parents’ perceptions, knowledge, experiences, and contextual realities also shape their self-efficacy beliefs. This affects how they are able to help their child. This study raises important implications for policy and planning to consider diverse realities of young children by keeping local realities, local approaches to learning, and cultural dimensions to contextualize global best practices. Recommendations and limitations are presented.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library