Learning and expertise in support for parents of children at risk: a cultural-historical analysis of partnership practices

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Oxford Review of Education, 2019, 45 (5), pp. 587 - 604
Issue Date:
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© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Relationships young children have with caring adults are important in mitigating the effects of adversity in early childhood. Facilitating parents’ learning is central to support that helps parents cope with difficult circumstances. Within this, a focus on parent–child relationships is crucial. This presents significant challenges to professionals, who must use their expertise effectively without leaving parents feeling judged and that their knowledge does not count. Professional–client partnership has been proposed as a means to tackle these issues, but remains inadequately conceptualised in terms of connections between professional expertise and parents’ learning. Home visits by nurses in Sydney were analysed, drawing on cultural-historical concepts that trace dialectic relations between expertise, practice, and parents’ learning. Partnership was accomplished through six practices: making observations, specific modes of questioning, reinterpreting, reframing, orienting to the future, and offering metacommentary. These are discussed in terms of recontextualisation, working in a space of reasons, and practices of categorising. This novel conceptualisation reveals how professionals can use their expertise to address parent–child relationships.
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