Parental experiences of belonging within the preschool community

Björn Rúnar Egilsson, Jóhanna Einarsdóttir, Sue Dockett

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Little is known about how supportive relationships and parent communities materialize, or fail to materialize, in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings characterized by family diversity. This paper explores parents’ lived experiences of belonging and non-belonging through semi-structured interviews with 12 parents of children from diverse backgrounds in two preschools in Reykjavík, Iceland. The children of these parents were 5–6 years old and would make the transition to primary school in the next school year. Interviews focused on parents’ experiences of their child’s time at the preschool, relationships with peers, educators and other families and the forthcoming transition to primary school. Findings suggested varied parental attitudes. While some reported benefits from belonging to a preschool community, others preferred to keep their distance or actively retained boundaries between home and school spheres. For these latter parents, belonging was framed as a matter of choice, influenced by factors such as time and language. A nuanced understanding of time as both facilitating belonging and a limited resource to be managed emerged from the study. These perspectives have implications for how policymakers and educators might facilitate belonging but also the importance of respecting those parents who choose to remain ‘outside’ the preschool community.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)31-47
    Number of pages17
    JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
    Issue number1
    Early online date13 Mar 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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