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Preschool and Im/migrants in Five Countries

England, France, Germany, Italy and United States of America


Edited By Joseph Tobin

A significant and growing percentage of the children enrolled in early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs in Europe and the United States are children of recent im/migrants. For most young (3–5 years old) children of parents who have come from other countries, ECEC settings are the first context in which they come face to face with differences between the culture of home and the public culture of their new country. For parents who have recently im/migrated to a new country, enrolling their child in an early childhood program is a key moment where cultural values of their home and adopted culture come into contact and, often, conflict. For countries with high rates of im/migration, ECEC programs are key sites for enacting national goals for social inclusion and the creation of new citizens. And yet the field of early childhood education has conducted too little research on the experience of im/migrant children, their families, and their teachers.

This book tells the story of our study of beliefs about early childhood education of im/migrant parents and of the practitioners who teach and care for their young children. It is simultaneously a study of im/migration seen from the perspective of early childhood education and of early childhood education seen from the perspective of im/migration. The book answers the questions: What do im/migrant parents want for their children in ECEC programs? How are the perspectives of im/migrant parents like and unalike the perspectives of their children’s preschool teachers and of non-immigrant parents? How are England, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States using ECEC settings to incorporate im/migrant children and their families into their new society? What can all five countries do better?

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Chapter 15. Asymmetries in Relationships Between Teachers and Immigrant Parents


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Asymmetries in Relationships Between Teachers and Immigrant Parents

Jennifer ADAIR

Associate Professor, College of education University of Texas at Austin (United States)

Joseph TOBIN

Professor, College of Education, The University of Georgia (United States)

From the beginnings of the field of center-based early childhood education and care the relationship of parents to teachers has been fraught. The origins of crèche and kindergartens in many countries had to do with taking the children of immigrant and poor families away from their parents during the day because their parents could not be trusted to raise them correctly. This was true of the settlement house tradition of early childhood education and care for Italian and Irish immigrants in the United States, which was well intended, but also implicitly patronizing. It was also true of the crèche tradition in France, where, upon bringing their children to the crèche each day, working class parents had to remove their children’s clothing and hand their naked infants over the threshold of the nursery to the crèche nurses who would bathe them. The need to strip and bathe the infants at the point of entry to the crèche is a powerful metaphor for the function of center-based early childhood settings, where all trace and scent of the parents and their world must be removed from the children each day. In the early years of the...

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