￼THROUGH A CRITICAL SOCIOCULTURAL LENS: PARENTS’ PERSPECTIVES OF AN EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM IN GUATEMALA
The present case study is on an Early Childhood program in Guatemala based on participant parents’ feedback. The Early Childhood program is non-formal, focuses on emergent literacy and nutrition, and takes place in a community-run library in a poor, semi-rural town in the mountainous regions of Quiche, Guatemala. The library was set up by a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that works in Guatemala as well as another neighboring country.
Using a critical sociocultural lens, this study assumes that the parents’ perceptions reflect the state of the program and that involving their feedback through this research will ultimately help to bolster the program as well as assure its relevance to the community. The results of this study will contribute to the process of building and improving upon the Early Childhood program as the program model is being expanded to all the libraries in the NGO’s network across Guatemala and Honduras.
The research process for this case study consists of mixed methods but was largely qualitative. Data was collected through a descriptive survey, interviews with parents, librarians, and NGO staff, as well as through observations of the EC program sessions. The data collected reflects the community of parents’ perspectives on the contributing factors to the program’s success as well as what the community feels could be improved upon. My role as an external research is also considered and discussed at length.
This study finds that school readiness and increased confidence and sociability were some of the largest benefits of the program as expressed by the parents. The parents also described changes in dynamics in their families including spending more time engaged in activities such as those learned in the Early Childhood program. In order to ensure this program’s cultural relevance to the local communities in which it operates, this study also questions the ways in which the program is influencing this community, including local conceptualizations of Early Childhood as well as unintended impacts the program may be having. These considerations are important for the program to best serve the community of parents and direct beneficiaries in order to ensure the Early Childhood program meets the parent community’s needs and desires and respects the cultural values of the community itself.