Fathers’ Perceptions of and their Role in the School Readiness of their Preschool Child





early childhood development, school readiness, fatherhood, Ecological and Dynamic Model of Transition


The study explored fathers’ perceptions of and their role in preparing their preschool child for mainstream education. The role of fathers in providing conditions for optimal development of children is often overlooked. This exploratory study incorporated semi-structured interviews with nine fathers residing in Cape Town, South Africa. Audio recordings were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Three thematic categories were identified: perceptions of school readiness, external feedback that guides fathers’ perspectives of school readiness; and roles and responsibilities regarding school readiness. The findings suggested that, in general, fathers lacked knowledge about school readiness and child development. Fathers’ beliefs about school readiness were often informed by their subjective experiences. The feedback from professionals was acknowledged as a primary source of information about school readiness. External facilitation of school readiness happens across numerous contexts pertaining to the individual, family, and school. Fathers were regarded as important role players across these contexts. It emerged that fathers’ roles remain undervalued and their ability to participate is diminished owing to their limited knowledge, gendered patterns to child rearing, and the lack of engagement with school systems.


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Author Biographies

Erica Munnik, University of the Western Cape

Erica Munnik is a Senior lecturer and Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape. She did her PhD in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape.

Celeste Meyburgh, University of the Western Cape

Celesté Meyburgh is a Registered Counsellor and Psychometrist in Independent Practice. She did her Masters in Psychology at the University of the Western Cape

Mario Smith, University of the Western Cape

Mario Smith is a Professor and Acting Director Research in the Post graduate research division at the University of the Western Cape. He obtained his PhD at the University of Columbia.



How to Cite

Munnik, Erica, Celeste Meyburgh, and Mario Smith. 2021. “Fathers’ Perceptions of and Their Role in the School Readiness of Their Preschool Child”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 33 (1):17 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/7709.



Received 2020-04-28
Accepted 2021-05-28
Published 2021-06-24