School of Education


Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


D. J. Mattson


Parental Reflective Functioning, Parenting Practices, Kindergarten Readiness, Social-emotional Development, Attachment Theory, Social Learning Theory




Parents and other primary caregivers are the preeminent facilitators of children’s social emotional development, and positive relationships between parents and children, as well as parental involvement, are significant predictors of children’s overall success. The purpose of this study was to address a gap in the literature by exploring (1) parental innate reflective functioning and (2) parenting practices of those with children enrolled in non-traditional or traditional early learning settings. Non-traditional early learning settings utilize a two-generation approach to support and educate children and parents equally, and parents actively participate in the child’s learning. Traditional early learning settings involve children who participate in learning activities in their parents’ absence. Bowlby’s Attachment Theory provided a theoretical foundation for this study, which utilized a non-experimental causal-comparative research design. The sample was comprised of 100 parents or other primary caregivers who had at least one child enrolled in a traditional or non-traditional early learning center. Interval (continuous) data was collected from parents using the (1) Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (PRFQ) and (2) Knowledge of Effective Parenting Practices (KEPS) instruments. Data were analyzed using Welch’s ANOVA, and the results indicated a statistically significant difference between parents’ reflective functioning skills between those with children enrolled in traditional settings versus non-traditional settings. However, the difference in parenting practices of these groups was not statistically significant. The results indicate that parental involvement is significantly related to parental reflective functioning, but not parenting practices. Future research should examine the effects of socioeconomic status and parent education levels on these findings.

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