Movement Building Parents & Familes Research
Project Grant
Neimand Collaborative
Rich Neimand President, Neimand Collaborative, [email protected]

The Parents as Consumers of Early Childhood Education report explores parent aspirations and motivations for seeking out early childhood education programs and resources for their children.

Context and Need

At the time Trust for Learning commissioned this research, there was plenty of existing and widely available research on where parents and the public stood on child development issues. However, there was little insight into the underlying motivations behind their decisions. The Trust and other partners knew that this information was important for making stronger connections with parents on a number of levels—communicating the value of high-quality, developmental programs; delivering programs that truly develop the capabilities parents seek in their children; increasing parent engagement and satisfaction; and elevating the role and stature of educators. Additionally, educators, policymakers, and the broader public can be more effective in serving families and children when the motivations of parents are better understood and respected.

Goals and Impact

The Trust invested in this research for two primary reasons: 1) To help providers and advocates of highly developmental early childhood education better understand the needs and motivations of parents across the socioeconomic spectrum; and, 2) To ensure that parents’ voices are at the forefront of conversations about early childhood programs and policy. 

Researchers found that what parents consistently described as best for their children is highly-aligned with developmental, personalized learning approaches that aspire to the principles of ideal learning. Parents understand the value of high-quality programs and can recognize what those programs look like. They want their children to develop the behavioral, social, and emotional skills that will prepare them to be capable adults. Most of all, they know that these programs exist, but they’re frustrated because they can’t put their children in the best available programs because of cost, location, or lack of availability. These research findings provided clarity on how to increase the supply of and demand for ideal learning programs.

It all starts with these little people. If we can feed their brains and nurture their little spirits then hopefully they are going to grow up and take care of the world. – Seattle parent

Photos courtesy of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance with appreciation to the Cyert Center for Early Education, and the Manny Cantor Center.

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