Class, culture, migration and mothering
4 THE SILENT PARTNERS? - 67
67 4 The Silent Partners? Pence and Goelman (1987) use the term “silent partners” to describe the lack of parents’ voices in research literature. Reay (1999) employs the phrase “a silent majority” in describing the silence of gendered parenting in the literature. She iterates that while mothers are the primary caregiv- ers who are responsible for their young children’s day-to-day lives, the gender role and the mothers’ contributions are silenced by the gender- neutral term “parents”. This chapter aims to make visible the work of migrant mothers in relation to their children’s early education. In the current project, the participants were generally quiet in their di- rect contacts with mainstream childcare centres. Although they did not try to have their voice heard in mainstream education, the migrant moth- ers deployed a range of strategies to provide what they saw to be the best education and care for their children. Underneath the ‘silence’, the mi- grant mothers were nevertheless proactively involved with their chil- dren’s education outside the home. This chapter presents detailed information in four main areas in order to understand the migrant mothers’ experiences of mainstream early child- hood services in New Zealand: 1) “Our choices” describes the mothers’ decisions to use a particular early childhood service; 2) “Daily communi- cation and dealing with concerns” recounts the daily communication pat- terns between home and centre; 3) “The Portfolio: a critique” presents par- ticipants’ critiques of their children’s portfolios; and 4) “Are they playing or learning?” reports the participants’ views...
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