Children's school readiness: The experiences of African refugee women in a supported playgroup

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science




New, R., Guilfoyle, A., & Harman, B. (2015). Children's school readiness: The experiences of african refugee women in a supported playgroup. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 40(1), 55-62. Available here.


An emerging pressure for refugee parents in Australia relates to children's 'school readiness'. Existing research on mainstream, ethnic and migrant parents has highlighted that preparing children for school can be stressful; however, current literature has not considered this phenomenon for refugees in Australia. Social support is important for parents as they navigate school-related problems, and supported playgroups can potentially play an important role here for refugees. However, existing research has not yet examined the ways such programs can support these individuals in dealing with school readiness issues. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore the experiences of African refugee mothers in relation to their children's school readiness and transitions to school, and the ways one supported playgroup assisted them in this context. A focus group and interviews were conducted with a sample of 11 women. Using an interpretive phenomenological approach, four main themes were identified: preparing for school; mothers' experiences of children's transitions to school; perceived supports; and playgroup support. It was found that women's experiences were fraught with underlying tensions and conflicts influenced by social and cultural factors, and assistance provided through the supported playgroup was highly important to the women in this context.

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