Varying actions and beliefs among parents about their children's science learning when visiting a science museum
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Before entering school, children begin their science learning with their parents at home. This study proposes that parents' beliefs and actions regarding science shape their children's knowledge and skills that they then bring to school. Studying parents' beliefs about and practices with their children within the topic area of science provided insight into their influence in helping their children make sense of the world. Therefore, the purpose of this study aimed to investigate parents' beliefs about children's science learning and their actions in facilitating their children's science learning when they visited a science museum from socio-cultural perspectives. To investigate this, a qualitative case study examining nine Taiwanese parents of kindergarteners was conducted. The study was conducted in two parts. Data sources included field notes, parent interviews, and documents such as pictures of the equipment these parents bought for their children. First, through interviews with parents, their beliefs about their children's science learning were identified and examined. Four parts including parents' gendered science beliefs, parents' perceived importance of science learning, parents' beliefs about how science learning should proceed, and parents' beliefs about their engagement in science learning were found. Part two of the study examined how these nine parents' beliefs guided them in making decisions when they interacted with their children in a science museum through observations and follow-up interviews. In most cases, parents' beliefs appeared to be important resources for helping them find a proper way to interact with their children. Three issues including the person who took the lead at the family visits, the quantity of parents' intervention, and the scaffolding strategies these parents employed were found in their interactions with their children. Parents were aware of why they behaved in particular ways: because of their beliefs. Based on the findings, the researcher suggested that parents' beliefs were an important mechanism for influencing children's science learning. A seemingly simple behavior, such as letting children explore one object longer than others, might reflect what was recognized as important in their beliefs. Lastly, the implications for early childhood educators, parents of young children, and future research were provided.