Document Type

Journal Article


Common Ground


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science/Systems and Intervention Research Centre for Health




This article was originally published as: New, R., & Guilfoyle, A. (2013). Children’s school readiness: the perspectives of African refugee mothers in a supported playgroup. The International Journal of Early Childhood Learning, 19(4), 1-14. Original article available here


Recent focus on the ‘early years’ has meant increased attention to children’s early learning experiences. An emerging pressure exists for parents to develop their children’s preparedness for school, pursuant to research emphasising the importance of ‘school readiness’ as a buffer against future academic, social, and mental health problems. The perspectives of parents, influenced by social and cultural factors, are often central to how well children are prepared for the transition to school. For refugee parents, children's successful schooling has been identified as both a general aspiration, and a pathway, for children's integration; however, little is known about their experiences in relation to preparing their children for school. The purpose of the present study was to explore the meanings African refugee mothers ascribe to their children's school readiness, using an interpretive phenomenology methodology. A focus group and in-depth interviews with a total of 8 Burundi refugee mothers, as well as playgroup staff and a kindergarten teacher, showed a range of concerns about school readiness different to those experienced by mainstream parents and parents from different cultures. In the context of these described difficulties, the meaning of assistance provided by a supported playgroup was also discussed.

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