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‘Belonging’ in Australian early childhood education and care curriculum and quality assurance: opportunities and risks

‘Belonging’ in Australian early childhood education and care curriculum and quality assurance: opportunities and risks by Professor Jennifer Sumsion,  Professor Linda Harrison, Karen Letsch, Professor Benjamin Bradley, Matthew Stapleton

Matthew Stapleton was one of the lead researchers exploring different ways of understanding and interpreting ‘belonging’ in relation to the Early Years Learning Framework. The article considers opportunities for expanding practice around children’s sense of belonging, and the risks of viewing belonging from a narrow and often western perspective. As part of their study of belonging, the authors complete a case study at a rural indigenous children’s service.The research was carried out using case study data generated in the babies’ room of Gundarah Early Learning Centre located in an Aboriginal community in rural Queensland .

Journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Vol 19 Issue 4 Published 1 Dec 2018

 

‘Belonging’ in Australian early childhood education and care curriculum and quality assurance: opportunities and risks by Professor Jennifer Sumsion,  Professor Linda Harrison, Karen Letsch, Professor Benjamin Bradley, Matthew Stapleton

Matthew Stapleton was one of the lead researchers exploring different ways of understanding and interpreting ‘belonging’ in relation to the Early Years Learning Framework. The article considers opportunities for expanding practice around children’s sense of belonging, and the risks of viewing belonging from a narrow and often western perspective. As part of their study of belonging, the authors complete a case study at a rural indigenous children’s service.The research was carried out using case study data generated in the babies’ room of an early childhood centre in an Aboriginal community in rural Queensland .

Journal Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood Vol 19 Issue 4 Published 1 Dec 2018

Spatial perspectives on babies’ ways of belonging in infant early childhood education and care

Spatial perspectives on babies’ ways of belonging in infant early childhood education and care by Professor Jennifer Sumison, Professor Linda J. Harrison, Matthew Stapleton

This research involved thinking spatially about infants’ everyday lives and their ways of ‘doing’ belonging in the babies’ room. Space was viewed as complex, dynamic and relational, and researchers mapped the movements  of baby Nadia. The results showed how Nadia used people, objects and spaces  to extend her environment beyond what was initially viewed as a particularly  confining space.

Journal of Pedagogy Vol 9 Issue 1

Is infant belonging observable?
A path through the maze

Is infant belonging observable? A path through the maze by Professor Jennifer Sumison, Professor Linda J. Harrison,  Dr Jane  M Selby, Professor Benjamin S Bradley, Matthew Stapleton

The authors look at the idea of infant ‘belonging’ in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and note it contains four different meanings for ‘belonging’, and also refers to ‘a sense of belonging’ as something that  infants and toddlers demonstrate and we can see.

They explore the ideas of ‘marked belonging’ in the EYLF, which refers to infants’ exclusion from or inclusion in groups of peers, and what they call ‘unmarked’ belonging in the EYLF which refers to an infant’s general comfort or ease.  Differences between these two meanings of infant belonging are explored using video recordings of infants.

The authors conclude that ‘belonging’ is not a helpful way to demonstrate an infant’s ‘unmarked’ comfort or ease, and that it would be better to look at infants’ proven capacity to participate in groups.

Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood 2018, Vol. 19

Behind the mirrors and in the mud patch: The affordance of belonging in outdoor learning environments for infant and toddlers

Behind the mirrors and in the mud patch: The affordance of belonging in outdoor learning environments for infant and toddlers by Matthew Stapleton

This case study looked at belonging and how it can be created for toddlers by redesigning and rebuilding the outdoor environment. It addresses the reality that not all early childhood environments are purposely designed for the care and education of children.

The case study explores how an outdoor setting that promoted conflict and frustration was remodelled and renovated using design principles to create structures and play spaces that children used productively and creatively, for example digging in the mud patch behind the mirror.

Presented at European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) Dublin, Ireland 1st September 2016

Mapping babies' connections and disconnections over the childcare day: Using go-pro cameras in research"

“Mapping babies’ connections and disconnections over the childcare day: Using go-pro cameras in research” by Professor Linda Harrison and Matthew Stapleton

This study aimed explores babies’ interactions and experiences with educators and peers in education and care centres.  The authors used a Go-pro camera in a fixed location to take photographs every 10 seconds of four focus children’s locations within the babies’ room.  The photos were then used to track children’s movements in the room and their distance to an educator and/or other children over time.

Presented at European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) Dublin, Ireland 1st September 2016

Building Challenging and Risky Learning Spaces with Four Year Olds: Unexpected Learning ‘Beyond the Fence’

Building Challenging and Risky Learning Spaces with Four Year Olds: Unexpected Learning ‘Beyond the Fence’ by Matthew Stapleton

This case study explores the methods used to transform  an outdoor environment at Dubbo Early Learning Centre  in regional NSW. The environment was not purposely designed for children’s education and care, and  was contributing to high levels of conflict and frustration among the children. The area was remodelled and renovated using design principles to create a structure and learning space for children to trial physical challenge and risk.

A lead Educator together with her class of 4 year olds built a 5 metre high climbing tower. Children evaluated the various designs, determining that a pyramid structure was the best design option. When building the structure, the children collaboratively learnt how to conceptualise, design, plan and construct and there were numerous opportunities to promote learning that engaged mathematical concepts. Families were pleased to see their children involved in ‘real work’ with a significant outcome.

The structure’s height unexpectedly gave children a chance to view the immediate community. It expanded learning ‘beyond the fence’ which in turn  generated weekly excursions into the local community.

Presented at Early Start Conference at University of Wollongong NSW September 2017

Conquering the tyre tower: Toddlers engaging with challenging. risky play

Conquering the tyre tower: Toddlers engaging with challenging, risky play by Dr Helen Little and Matthew Stapleton.

This study looks at very young (18-24 months) children’s experience of ‘belonging’ in relation to risky play through different perspectives of belonging.  Children’s play was observed over a 7-month period using GoPro cameras, and it was evident from children’s  play activities and experiences that different areas of the environment  provided children with a sense of belonging  as viewed from the different perspectives.

Presented at International Play Association Conference Alberta Canada September 2017

 

Writing evidence-based children’s literature – how research can inform the process of writing books for babies: A case study from Aboriginal toddler education and care

 

Writing evidence-based children’s literature – how research can inform the process of writing books for babies: A case study from Aboriginal infant toddler education and care by Professor Linda Harrison, Karen Letsch, Lavina Dynevor (Gundoo ELC), Professor Jennifer Sumsion and Matthew Stapleton.

This research was conducted at Gundoo Early Learning Centre, an Aboriginal Children’s Service designed and delivered by Aboriginal educators. The study, funded through an Australian Research Council grant, aimed to promote an innovative and accessible sense of belonging in infant-toddler settings by writing four children’s books which  portrayed Aboriginal people  in a positive way.

Data was collected during regular visits to the centre over 7 months and the authors worked with the Gundoo community and four focus children and their families to select images and write storylines. Using a ‘reverse design process,’ the authors ensured the books were simple and short, had an appealing, quirky  storyline , included characters which the babies and educators could relate to, and contained lots of attractive images to support co-reading.

The four books:

  1. Budda: respect for babies’ culture of origin promotes a sense of belonging and wellbeing.
  2. Sissy: meeting babies’ individual needs for physical comfort and reassurance promotes a sense of belonging and wellbeing.
  3. Junior: making space and time for family engagement promotes a sense of belonging and wellbeing.
  4. Tidda: taking care to identify and program for the individual interests and preferences of babies enables the preparation of a rich and relevant learning environment which promotes a sense of belonging and wellbeing.

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