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Professionals in Early Childhood Special Education Research Paper

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A Systematic Review

The purpose of this systematic review is to analyze existing pieces of literature, which have explored the perceptions of Saudi Arabian parents towards collaboration with professionals in early childhood special education. The data obtained for analysis were retrieved from peer-reviewed journals that were related to the study topic. Broadly, this review is designed to understand the extent that which existing literature on collaboration in early childhood education outlines parents’ perspectives towards the practice. Key sections of this document highlight the inclusion/exclusion criteria, coding processes, data analysis methods, findings of the literature search, limitations of the review, and the implications of the findings. However, before delving into the details of this review, it first is important to understand the methods adopted by the researcher to obtain the data below.

Method and Data Sources

The researcher conducted a systematic review of research articles from four databases: Sage Journals, Google Scholar, ERIC, and Jstor. The development of the inclusion and exclusion criteria was undertaken in a two-stage process defined by the need to obtain the most relevant and updated information about the perceptions of parents towards collaboration with professionals in early childhood education and the importance of obtaining research articles that specifically focused on parents’ views regarding collaboration. Twenty publications were generated from this process after evaluating the merits and demerits of hundreds of documents obtained from the initial search. Figure 1 below provides a broad analysis of the steps taken by the researcher to come up with the final list of articles for the systematic review.

Search for Electronic Database:

  • (Sage Journals, Google Scholar, ERIC and Jstor)
  • 457 publications

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Focused on education or one of its components
  • Must have been empirical
  • Focused on parental views
  • (25 publications)

Exclusionary Criteria:

  • Published in a non-peer reviewed journal
  • No focus on parental perspectives
  • No empirical data presented
  • (432 publications)

The subsection below highlights the modalities adopted during the database search.

Database Search

As highlighted above, the researcher conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed journals from four databases namely: Sage Journals, Google Scholar, ERIC, and Jstor. The main descriptors used in the search process were parents’ perceptions, early childhood education, collaboration, and Saudi Arabia. The search process yielded 457 publications. Two hundred and seventy-two of these articles did not provide full access to the information needed so they were excluded from the final list. Comparatively, 121 publications were also omitted from the final list because their focus was not on education. Fifty-six of the initial articles retrieved were similarly excluded from the review because their findings were not empirical. Overall, an emphasis was made to only use publications, which were developed from an educational background and that were published in reputable journals. The inclusion and exclusion criteria used are outlined below.

Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria

To obtain the highest quality and credible materials for the systematic review, the researcher developed a specified set of inclusionary and exclusionary criteria for analysis. First, publications that only focused on examining parental perceptions about collaboration in early childhood education were selected for consideration. This criterion was formulated to only obtain information that would be relevant to the views of parents or guardians who had children in early childhood education. Secondly, the researcher strived to obtain information that was relevant to collaboration in the early childhood setting. The researcher developed this measure to focus on collaboration as a core practice in early childhood education. The spotlight could not be tied to collaboration with teachers alone because of the unavailability of adequate volumes of literature that focused on this area of early childhood education.

The third criterion developed by the researcher related to the selection of research articles that had an educational focus. The aim of using this measure of analysis was to maintain the focus of the study to the desired discipline – education. Furthermore, through the confinement of the research focus on this study area, it was possible for the investigator to compare collaboration practices across different subsets of the education sector. Another criterion for inclusion adopted by the researcher during the selection process was the focus on empirical studies. In other words, the selected journals had to contain primary research data. The main objective of following this strategy was to obtain credible pieces of information for review. Lastly, the articles used in this review had to be journals because they are credible sources of primary research data in the area of study. The databases used to find the materials have been mentioned in earlier sections of this document.

As highlighted in figure 1, the initial assessment process yielded 457 publications using parents, perceptions, collaboration, early childhood education, teachers, and Saudi Arabia as descriptors. However, after subjecting these materials to the inclusion criteria defined above, the researcher only identified 29 articles for coding. Subjecting the same materials to the exclusionary criteria also helped to eliminate nine more journals that did not have a primary focus on parents’ views. In sum, the researcher selected 20 articles to be part of the final list of journals for review. In table 1 below, the researcher lists the characteristics of these articles based on the type of participants sampled, the purpose of the investigation, type of study, grade-level focus, and relevant component of collaboration.

Table 1. Articles Selected and their Characteristics

Study Journal Participants Purpose of the Study Type of Study Grade-Level Focus Collaboration Component
Park, Turnbull, and Park (2001) Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities Parents Exploratory Qualitative Pre-school Cultural and linguistic collaboration
Blue-Banning, Summers, Frankland, Nelson, and Beegle (2004). Exceptional Children Parents Exploratory Qualitative inquiry Pre-school Interpersonal partnerships
Fallon and Zhang (2013) The Journal of Educational Thought Parents Exploratory Qualitative Pre-school Quality of collaboration
Singh and Zhang (2018) Australasian Journal of Early Childhood Parents Interpretive Mixed methods Not indicated Home cultural practices
Miller, Hilgendorf & Dilworth-Bart (2014) Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Parents Exploratory Qualitative Pre-school Home-school connections
Adams, Harris & Jones (2016) Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Sciences Parents and teachers Exploratory Mixed methods Primary and secondary schools inclusivity
Mautone, Marcelle & Power (2015). Psychology School Parents and teachers Exploratory Quantitative Pre-school Relationship quality
Mereoiu, Abercrombie & Murray (2016) Cogent Education Parents and educators Exploratory Qualitative Not indicated Communication, understanding, and appreciation
Vuorinen (2018) European Early Childhood Education Journal Parents Exploratory Qualitative Pre-school Remote parenting
Iversen, Shimmel, Ciacera, & Prabhakar (2003) Pediatric Physical Therapy Parents and Early Intervention (EI) providers Program review Quantitative Not indicated A family-centered approach to early intervention services
Huang and Mason (2008) Multicultural Education Parents Program review Qualitative Pre-school Motivation
Ingber and Dromi (2010) The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education Parents and Professionals Exploratory Quantitative Elementary A family-centered approach to early intervention services
Petrakos and Lehrer (2011) Exceptionality Education International Parents and teachers Exploratory Qualitative Kindergarten Transition practices
Sormunen, Tossavainen, and Turunen (2013) Health Promotion International Parents Exploratory Quantitative Elementary school Home-school connections
Aaron et al. (2014) Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics Parents Recommendation Mixed Methods Pre-school Intensity of collaboration
Orly and Shoshana (2014) International Journal of Special Education Parents Exploratory Qualitative Middle-School Trust
Wanat (2010) The School Community Journal Parents Exploratory Qualitative Not indicated Satisfaction of parents
Cameron and Kovac (2017) Child Care in Practice Parents and pre-school workers Exploratory Quantitative -Surveys Pre-school Bullying
Bang (2018) Social Behavior and Personality Parents Exploratory Qualitative Pre-school Barriers to collaboration
Cui, Valcke, and Vanderlinde (2016) Journal of Social Sciences Parents Exploratory Quantitative -Survey Pre-school Teachers’ competencies

Coding Process

The researcher conducted a content analysis of the selected articles by coding them according to unique identifiable features. The first feature was demographic information relating to the participants and the publishing journal. The second feature was the type of investigation (either qualitative, mixed methods, or quantitative), while the third criterion for assessment was the purpose of the study (for example, historical exploratory, or program review). Lastly, grade-level focus (such as elementary group discussions, middle school or high schools, and certification programs) formed the last coding feature. To make sure the coding process yielded the most credible data, the researcher consulted with a colleague who helped to code the materials used based on the above-mentioned selection criteria with 90% accuracy.

Data Analysis

The researcher analyzed the data by assessing the frequency of responses associated with each of the journals assessed. All the entries were also crosschecked by the researcher and with the help of the colleague to make sure all the data entries were accurate. The results of the overall investigation are highlighted and synthesized below.

Synthesis of Findings/Results

As highlighted in the sections above, the researcher selected 25 articles for the systemic review. This number was equivalent to about 6% of the total sample of journals obtained from the initial research. Seven entries were linked to general peer-reviewed journals, while five were directly linked to early childhood education. Lastly, one of the materials had a medical education focus, but all of them focused on parents’ views regarding collaboration. Most of the publications also strived to explain collaboration between parents and teachers (n = 6). While only two entries were authored for an in-service audience. An assessment of the purpose for developing the publications was also carried out and it was established that only one article was a “recommendation,” and two were program reviews. The rest were exploratory entries. Fifteen of the publications were designed to contribute to the academic knowledge concerning collaboration in early childhood settings, while ten were specifically designed to expand the literature on collaboration. Three articles used the mixed method framework, five used the quantitative approach, and the rest adopted the qualitative technique. The pre-school setting was the most common grade-level used to develop the journals, while four articles lacked the information to make a graded assessment. Lastly, a majority of the journals reviewed focused on collaboration as a core tenet of their investigations.

Recommendations from the Findings

As highlighted in this paper, the pieces of literature sampled in this review focused their attention on parents’ perspectives regarding collaboration. The researcher also observed that parental views regarding collaboration in early childhood development form an important tenet of early childhood development. This focus departs from past works of literature, which have typically concentrated on understanding teachers’ views regarding the same aspect educational area.

There has also been an increased emphasis on understanding the effectiveness of educational programs from the process, which includes collaboration between parents and teachers alike (Cameron, 2018; Mngarah, 2017).

Particularly, there has been a strong focus on understanding cultural competence and progress monitoring of educational programs, which are designed to foster collaboration between parents and educators (Popa, Gliga, & Michel, 2012). Therefore, understanding the views of family members regarding collaboration is instrumental in making such educational programs successful because they will help policymakers to better align educational programs with their needs (Aaron et al., 2014). In other words, they would experience increased quality collaboration from parents as a key stakeholder in early childhood education. The improved performance should come from decreased resistance and improved cooperation from parents because the educational programs appeal to their specific interests.

Recommendations from the findings also expand the volume of literature regarding parental involvement in early childhood education, especially considering their input is critical to the educational development of children who are in their formative years of learning (Bang, 2018). Similarly, Aaron et al. (2014) point out the importance of equipping educators with knowledge regarding how to better harness the power of parental involvement in early childhood education. Wanat (2010) also agrees with this recommendation by saying that early childhood educators should understand the needs of parents when designing collaborative school programs.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

As highlighted in this study, the systemic review conducted on this document was designed to understand the attitudes of Saudi Arabian parents regarding collaboration in early childhood education. The findings will help to provide a culturally responsive teaching plan in the country’s early childhood education sector because the social and cultural dynamics of the Saudi society, which may affect a parent’s views regarding collaboration, are evaluated, subject to their views regarding collaboration with teachers. The context-specific nature of the review means that educators in Saudi Arabia’s early childhood education can be better informed about the need to develop culturally responsive teaching practices. This area of assessment needs to be a key part of teacher preparation programs because the availability of a plethora of studies on collaboration between educationists and linked stakeholders may undermine the focus needed in developing educational programs that appeal to the country-specific cultural dynamics of engagement.

Evidence-Based Practices and Program Development

Further recommendations emphasize the need to adapt the early childhood development coursework or curriculum to the unique needs of parents and teachers. Stated differently, there should be a heightened level of sensitivity to the needs of each education stakeholder group (mostly parents in this case) in curriculum development. Notably, the relevance of experience and case-based applications in this review needs to be considered when developing educational programs that require parental involvement. The inclusion of parents in the analysis may be important in monitoring the progress of children in early childhood education because parents spend more time with their children than teachers do. Therefore, educators should be conversant with the development of culturally responsive assessment processes.


For a long time, the views of parents regarding collaboration in the early childhood education setting have been ignored. Particularly, the views of parents who hail from non-western countries, such as Saudi Arabia, have been underexplored. However, it should be noted that there is a renewed interest regarding the roles of parents in promoting collaborative practices in early childhood education because of the growing body of literature, which highlights their importance during the formative years of a child’s development (Cameron & Kovac, 2017; Petrakos & Lehrer, 2011). The shift in focus has created the need to merge both parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of collaboration to create a holistic framework for providing learning support to children.

This presentation of literature demonstrates a large gap in the study because no Saudi-based study emerged in the review. Furthermore, no Middle East-based studies investigated the views of parents towards collaboration with professionals in the early childhood education setting. Based on this outcome, there is a need to undertake a deeper analysis of the views of Saudi Arabian parents regarding collaboration. Thereafter, educationists should prepare all stakeholders to merge these concerns with those of the teachers and create synchrony or harmony in the provision of education support to young children. Lastly, peer-reviewed journals should expand their focus to include an analysis of parents’ views regarding collaboration from a non-western perspective.


It is important to understand the role played by the exclusionary and inclusion criteria in searching for articles when assessing the limitations associated with this systemic review. All the publications listed in figure 1 focused on parental views regarding collaboration. However, in some studies, it was difficult to confine this analysis to parents as the only participant group because researchers often compared their views with other stakeholders in the education sector, such as teachers (Starr, Foy, & Cramer, 2001; Soodak & Erwin, 2000). Based on the difficulty associated with finding articles that met the search criteria, it was inevitable for the researcher to include some studies that did not exclusively seek the views of parents. Lastly, the researcher confined the data analysis process to a selected group of descriptors, which if removed could have significantly broadened the scope of the information obtained.

Implications for Practice

For a long time, researchers have investigated the views of parents regarding collaboration in early childhood education. Most of these pieces of the literature suggest that they have a positive attitude towards the practice (Mngarah, 2017, Park et al., 2001). However, the adequacy of teacher preparation in this field to collaborate or work with parents is an ongoing concern. Indeed, some instructors are not ready to work with outside parties to achieve specific learning goals (Vuorinen, 2018). Therefore, enhancing the quality of collaboration between parents and teachers should not only be deemed a good practice but also a strategy for improving the educational outcomes of young children. Conducting periodic reviews of the progress made in this regard should also improve practice in terms of collaboration with non-educational staff and allow researchers to better connect knowledge with their practical experiences. Relative to this discussion, Soodak and Erwin (2000) suggest that the practical experiences should be supported with administrative support because educational tools, such as the curriculum, need to be redesigned to accommodate the possibilities of improved outcomes because of parent-teacher collaboration processes.


Aaron, C., Chiarello, L. A., Palisano, R. J., Gracely, E., O’Neil, M., & Kolobe, T. (2014).

Relationships among family participation, team support, and intensity of early intervention services. Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics, 34(4), 343-355.

Adams, D., Harris, A., & Jones, M. S. (2016). Teacher-parent collaboration for an inclusive classroom: Success for every child. Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 4(3), 58-72.

Bang, Y. (2018). Parents’ perspectives on how their behaviors impede parent-teacher collaboration. Social Behavior and Personality, 46(11), 1787-1800.

Blue-Banning, M., Summers, J.A., Frankland, H. C., Nelson, L.L., & Beegle, G. (2004).

Dimensions of family and professional partnerships: Constructive guidelines for collaboration. Exceptional Children, 70(2), 167-184.

Cameron, D. L. (2018). Barriers to parental empowerment in the context of multidisciplinary collaboration on behalf of preschool children with disabilities. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research, 20(1), 277-285.

Cameron, D. L., & Kovac, V. B. (2017). Parents and preschool workers’ perceptions of competence, collaboration, and strategies for addressing bullying in early childhood. Child Care in Practice, 23(2), 126-140.

Cui, Z., Valcke, M., & Vanderlinde, R. (2016). Empirical study of parents’ perceptions of preschool teaching competencies in China. Journal of Social Sciences, 4(2), 1-7.

Fallon, M., & Zhang, J. (2013). Inclusive collaboration with families of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD): Perceptions of families, pre-service and in-service level teachers. The Journal of Educational Thought, 46(1), 45-62.

Huang, G. H., & Mason, K. L. (2008). Motivations of parental involvement in children’s learning: Voices from urban African American families of preschoolers. Multicultural Education, 15(3), 20-27.

Ingber, S., & Dromi, E. (2010). Actual versus desired family-centered practice in early intervention for children with hearing loss. The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 15(1), 59-71.

Iversen, M. D., Shimmel, J. P., Ciacera, S. L., & Prabhakar, M. (2003). Creating a family-centered approach to early intervention services: Perceptions of parents and professionals. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 15(1), 23-31.

Mautone, J. A., Marcelle, E., & Power, T. J. (2015). Assessing the quality of parent-teacher relationships for students with ADHD. Psychology School, 52(2), 196-207.

Mereoiu, M., Abercrombie, S., & Murray, M. (2016). One step closer: Connecting parents and teachers for improved student outcomes. Cogent Education, 3(1), 1-19.

Miller, K., Hilgendorf, A., & Dilworth-Bart, J. (2014). Cultural capital and home–school connections in early childhood. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 15(4), 329-349.

Mngarah, D. (2017). An assessment of family-school collaboration toward children’s moral development in Tanzania: Do they speak the same language? Global Journal of Human-Social Sciences, Linguistics & Education, 17(4), 1-16.

Orly, H., & Shoshana, P. (2014). Parental involvement in the individual educational program for Israeli students with disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 29(3), 58-68.

Park, J., Turnbull, A. P, & Park, H. (2001). Quality of partnerships in service provision for Korean American parents of children with disabilities: A qualitative inquiry. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 26(3), 158-170.

Petrakos, H. H., & Lehrer, J. S. (2011). Parents’ and teachers’ perceptions of transition practices in kindergarten. Exceptionality Education International, 21(1), 62-73.

Popa, M., Gliga, F., & Michel, T. (2012). The perception of parents on the issue of early intervention in child development. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 33 (2), 303-307.

Singh, P., & Zhang, K. C. (2018). Parents’ perspective on early childhood education in New Zealand: Voices from Pacifika families. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 43(1), 52-58.

Soodak, L. C., & Erwin, E. J. (2000). Valued member or tolerated participant: Parents’ experiences in inclusive early childhood settings. Journal of the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps, 25(1), 29-41.

Sormunen, M., Tossavainen, K., & Turunen, H. (2013). Parental perceptions of the roles of home and school in health education for elementary school children in Finland. Health Promotion International, 28(2), 244-256.

Starr, E. M., Foy, J. B., & Cramer, K. M. (2001). Parental perceptions of the education of children with pervasive developmental disorders. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 36(1), 55-68.

Vuorinen, T. (2018). Remote parenting: Parents’ perspectives on, and experiences of, home and preschool collaboration. European Early Childhood Education Journal, 26(2), 1-10.

Wanat, C. L. (2010). Challenges balancing collaboration and independence in home-school relationships: Analysis of parents’ perceptions in one district. The School Community Journal, 20(1), 159-186.

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