Studying Jordanian and Syrian Parental Behavior Around Children’s Education

August 1st, 2022 | Blogs

How do parents prepare their young children for school? This was the overriding question of a recent study conducted by World Education and Queen Rania Foundation in Jordan.

A child is ready to learn when he or she has the physical, cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioral competencies needed to learn at a developmentally appropriate level (Al-Hassan & Landsford, 2009). In early childhood—ages 0-5 years old—the most important relationships are those within the family, especially between the parents and child (Pianta, 2002).

To determine how parents prepare their children for school, a World Education study established a rigorous and relevant baseline of parental behaviors. The study primarily focused on singing, talking, reading, counting, and playing as the behaviors of parents related to readiness to learn,  chosen after reviewing existing literature on activities that promote school readiness skills. The aim was to identify the major barriers, such as lack of time and peace of mind, beliefs about age appropriateness, technology, and social approval, and motivators, such as socio-demographic factors, parents’ hopes for their child’s future, and knowledge of methods to teach early learning skills and content, linked to key parenting behavior. These motivators and barriers inform program design and language and messaging styles that resonate with parents across Jordan to support the development of behaviors that build readiness to learn abilities for their young children.


To conduct this nationally representative study, we began by interviewing 30 Jordanian & Syrian mothers and fathers to inform the design of the larger quantitative survey.

Then, we surveyed 1,641 people—631 Jordanian fathers, 8008 Jordanian mothers, 89 Syrian fathers, and 113 Syrian mothers—with at least one child under the age of 6 to gain insights into what parents do to support their children’s development and why they do those things. Those surveyed lived in the northern, central, and southern regions and represented a range of education levels.

Using survey data, we created a measure of overall parental involvement in their children’s early development. The measure was based on parents’ responses to questions about how frequently they do activities associated with early learning like playing, talking with their child, reading, singing, or counting, as well as their beliefs about what is most important their children learn before starting grade 1. Using this measure, we sorted parents into categories of low, middle, and high involvement. Following the survey, we held 6 homogeneous focus groups (3 for men and 3 for women) consisting of 7-9 parents from each involvement category.

Main findings

I like to count with her and try to count from one to ten or more. When I’m in the kitchen, she comes and starts counting the vegetables, and I like her to count with me how many are these, or what is this.” – Focus group participant


% of parents reported doing this in the past 3 days  % of parents reported doing this on a typical day Barriers Drivers
Reading 6.3% 0.3%
  • access to books
  • child’s stubbornness
  • Stress
  • Time
  • Housework
  • belief that the child is too young
  • having time
  • believing it will calm the child
  • knowing it is an enjoyable way to spend quality time together
Talking 18.6% 21.2%
  • Stress
  • time
  • having time
  • believing it will boost the child’s confidence
  • knowing that talking will produce other positive outcomes 
Singing 14.9% 0%
  • time
  • believing it will calm the child
  • believing it will boost the child’s confidence
Playing 61% 51.1%
  • technology
  • Technology
  • believing it will boost the child’s confidence
Counting 14.1%
  • Time
  • worry that other children will be jealous
  • connections between counting and later achievement


The data from this study shows that parents in Jordan value education highly and choose their actions based on how it would help shape their child’s character and future, including educational success, a good career, and financial stability. It also shows that virtually all parents could use more information and strategies on how to be more involved in their child’s early learning, like how to invest their time to promote readiness to learn through play and everyday moments. Parents could use more resources, such as age-appropriate books and high-quality educational media, to use with their children. As a result, these methods and resources may have effects beyond those particular skills and spill over into greater overall involvement.

The Parental Behaviors in the Early Years – Phase 1, is a comprehensive nationally representative study conducted by World Education, in partnership with Jordan’s Ministry of Education and the Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development, with funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (formerly the Department for International Development).

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