Supporting Inclusivity in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Community

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102). This special issue belongs to the section "Early Childhood Education".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 January 2024) | Viewed by 11604

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
1. Department of Child and Youth Studies, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
2. Department of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Interests: inclusivity; community; parental participation and diversity in early childhood education and care

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Guest Editor
School of Education and Professional Studies, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD 4222, Australia
Interests: early childhood teacher education; teacher self efficacy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In this Special Issue we explore ways in which inclusivity in and across the early childhood education and care (ECEC) community can be supported. We are particularly interested in effective support examples when working with diverse populations to allow inclusion in early childhood education and care services across a variety of age groups in the years before formal schooling. This could include pedagogical practices, team building, leadership, parental participation, interdisciplinary approaches and other areas related to inclusivity in ECEC communities. We invite contributions from around the world to show snapshots and glimpses of current contexts.

Prof. Dr. Arniika Kuusisto
Prof. Dr. Susanne Garvis
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • early childhood education and care
  • inclusivity
  • community

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

20 pages, 985 KiB  
Article
Teaching Kindness and Compassion: An Exploratory Intervention Study to Support Young Children’s Prosocial Skills in an Inclusive ECEC Setting
by Katri Pardon, Arniika Kuusisto and Lotta Uusitalo
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(11), 1148; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13111148 - 16 Nov 2023
Viewed by 1614
Abstract
In this exploratory intervention study, the aim was to teach 5–7-year-old children prosocial skills in an inclusive Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting. The intervention programme was based on previous studies and helps fill a gap in how to promote prosocial [...] Read more.
In this exploratory intervention study, the aim was to teach 5–7-year-old children prosocial skills in an inclusive Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC) setting. The intervention programme was based on previous studies and helps fill a gap in how to promote prosocial behaviour in an ECEC setting encompassing children with diverse needs. The theoretical framework draws on research on character strengths in the field of positive psychology, particularly what the literature refers to as the strengths of the heart, namely kindness and compassion. The study follows the methodological framework of pragmatism and a mixed-methods research perspective. Research methods include questionnaires and interviews with children (n = 23), some of their guardians (n = 8) and ECEC teachers (n = 2). The results were two-fold. With the picture-based questionnaire, the pre–post measures showed little advancement. However, individual interviews revealed developments in children’s prosocial thinking that also translated into concrete actions. These findings were further supported by the positive feedback received from teachers and guardians. The contents of the programme can be integrated into daily, inclusive ECEC pedagogy. Methodologically, the intervention design serves as a starting point for the further development of data collection practices that capture children’s voices in ECEC. Full article
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13 pages, 266 KiB  
Article
Identification, Silence, Separation, and Imagination: Children’s Navigations of Christmas in a Religiously Diverse Norwegian Kindergarten
by Ragnhild Laird Iversen
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(11), 1077; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13111077 - 25 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1316
Abstract
Christmas plays an important role in kindergartens in all the Nordic countries. While for many, Christmas is a time for belonging, for others it is a time for withdrawal or longing. This article applies ethnographic data to examine how staff and children manage [...] Read more.
Christmas plays an important role in kindergartens in all the Nordic countries. While for many, Christmas is a time for belonging, for others it is a time for withdrawal or longing. This article applies ethnographic data to examine how staff and children manage Christmas in the context of a religiously diverse Norwegian kindergarten. Describing how Christmas dominates the kindergarten from late November and through December, I analyze how this affects children’s practices, narratives, and opportunities to belong. Building on Yuval-Davies’ concept of the politics of belonging, I develop a typology of four interrelated ways of navigation: identification, silence, separation, and imagination. This typology illuminates how children may be affected by the politics of belonging, but also how their agency and creativity lead to different ways of navigation, influencing processes of belonging. By providing a child-centered perspective on belonging, this article provides an empirically based contribution to discussions about inclusivity relating to religious and cultural diversity in ECEC. Full article
12 pages, 244 KiB  
Article
Teachers’ Perceptions of the Cultural Capital of Children and Families with Immigrant Backgrounds in Early Childhood Education
by Lassi Lavanti, Heidi Harju-Luukkainen and Arniika Kuusisto
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(10), 977; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13100977 - 25 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1517
Abstract
Finnish society has become increasingly diverse relatively recently, notably during the past few decades. This paper explores the perceptions of early childhood education and care (ECEC) teachers (n = 11) about the cultural capital of those children and families growing up in immigrant [...] Read more.
Finnish society has become increasingly diverse relatively recently, notably during the past few decades. This paper explores the perceptions of early childhood education and care (ECEC) teachers (n = 11) about the cultural capital of those children and families growing up in immigrant background families and their sense of belonging in early childhood settings in Finland. We draw on curriculum frameworks to understand these constructs. The paper utilises Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital to conceptualise the sense of belonging for children and families with an immigrant background in Finnish ECEC. The interviews consisted of two pairs and two group interviews with teachers from four ECEC centres, each including two to four ECEC teachers. The data analysis is based on a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) informed content analysis. This approach shows how ECEC teachers’ pedagogical practices guide immigrant families and children in Finland towards a national identity. The findings indicate that play and language learning facilitated the development of cultural capital. Nonetheless, it is crucial to investigate the family viewpoint in the future. Full article
14 pages, 296 KiB  
Article
Inclusive Play: Defining Elements of Playful Teaching and Learning in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse ECEC
by Jonna Kangas, Anna-Leena Lastikka and Outi Arvola
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(9), 956; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13090956 - 19 Sep 2023
Viewed by 2265
Abstract
Inclusive values are integral to early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies, promoting equal participation opportunities and individual support for all children. Play serves as a method for meaningful engagement, mutual cultural knowledge creation, and learning within ECEC. Pedagogical play entails teachers’ observation, [...] Read more.
Inclusive values are integral to early childhood education and care (ECEC) policies, promoting equal participation opportunities and individual support for all children. Play serves as a method for meaningful engagement, mutual cultural knowledge creation, and learning within ECEC. Pedagogical play entails teachers’ observation, interaction, support, and guidance. This study investigates practical elements and methods employed by teaching staff and experienced by children during playful activities. Conducted as a case study in two culturally diverse ECEC centers during spring 2023, data collection involved video-recorded monitoring of children’s daily activities in five groups. Video data were transcribed and analyzed using content analysis tools to identify categories of inclusive play. Findings are presented as narratives to honor children’s experiences. The study identifies five elements of inclusive play: teachers’ active participation and presence, balanced repetition with flexible plans and adaptive goals, playful language fostering joy in play, non-verbal and kinesthetic communication with enabling tools, and emerging play marked by interaction and lasting intensity. These elements reveal opportunities and challenges for children’s inclusion and learning approaches, informing recommendations for promoting inclusive play in ECEC. Inclusive play emphasizes diverse strategies accommodating differences in learning styles and modes of knowledge expression among teaching staff and children. Full article
24 pages, 556 KiB  
Article
Early Years Staff Experiences in a “Culture of Learning” Regarding Inclusion in a Nursery Class in a British School: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
by Anabel Corral-Granados, Ana María Martínez-Martínez, Carlos Sánchez-Muñoz and Noelia Navarro-Gómez
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 515; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050515 - 19 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2041
Abstract
Less than 20% of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff members working in British early childhood centres agree that the inclusion of all children is an essential part of their working agenda, as they feel unqualified to take care of children [...] Read more.
Less than 20% of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff members working in British early childhood centres agree that the inclusion of all children is an essential part of their working agenda, as they feel unqualified to take care of children with complex SEN or disabilities. This study makes a novel contribution by drawing on data compiled from a one-year ethnographic study which addressed the in-service learning experiences of seven teaching staff members that work inclusively. The participants included 2 classroom teachers, 1 SENCo (Special Educational Needs Coordinator), and 4 teaching assistants from a preschool class that teaches 92 children between the ages of 3 and 4, located in a primary school in England. We explore what professional learning means for the participants’ role, which professional learning opportunities are meaningful to them, and under which circumstances had been offered. This study not only does consider their opportunities for professional development on the job but also outside of work. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews, artifact analysis, and ongoing participant observation over one academic year. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The results demonstrate that this case study offers a unique perspective of a microsystem that could be at risk due to a lack of awareness by leaders and administration. The study is divided into four themes that directly impact inclusive professional service-development practices: (1) challenges posed to continuous professional development by differing professional roles, (2) motives for in-service training: combining career, school, and authorities’ interests, (3) promotion of meaningful professional development experiences by school, and (4) self-determined classroom motivated by respect and recognition. Full article
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13 pages, 262 KiB  
Article
Educators’ Construction of a Sense of Belonging in ECEC: An Australian Case Study
by Anne Keary, Haoran Zheng and Susanne Garvis
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 510; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050510 - 18 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1621
Abstract
The involvement of refugee families in early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a complex issue in many countries. In this paper, we explore how early childhood (EC) educators construct refugee families’ sense of belonging in two metropolitan and one regional EC setting [...] Read more.
The involvement of refugee families in early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a complex issue in many countries. In this paper, we explore how early childhood (EC) educators construct refugee families’ sense of belonging in two metropolitan and one regional EC setting in Victoria, Australia. We undertook a multiple case study, analyzing interview data. We implemented Bourdieu’s notion of cultural capital and identity capital, drawing on the Provision Articles from the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Australian Early Years Learning Framework 2.0. Our study revealed the tensions between creating a sense of belonging and recognizing the identity and cultural capital of refugee children and their families as they access ECEC programs. We conclude with suggestions for ways forward to navigate this space, including the need for greater awareness of research on the importance of a sense of belonging for refugee families in ECEC settings. Full article
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