2008, Volume 11, Journal Articles

NZ Research in ECE Journal Volume 11 (2008)

early childhood research journal

Making Choices: Contradictions and Commonalities in the Valuing of Caring and Working by Government Policy and First Time Mothers

Ella R Kahu
Massey University, Wellington

Mandy Morgan
Massey University, Palmerston North

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 1 - 18.

Key words: Motherhood; paid work; work-life balance; gender roles; discourse analysis

Abstract: This paper examines the discourses which construct women’s identities as mother and worker. In order to explore the discursive interface between policy and experience, two texts were analysed and compared: the New Zealand government policy for women and the talk of first time mothers. Both similarities and differences were identified but the key difference was one of priority. The policy document privileged paid work and constructed women’s caregiving responsibilities as a demand. For the women, although paid work was financially and psychologically important, their priority was their mothering. The analysis reveals the increasing dominance of discourses of economic rationalism, which elevate market work to the status of essential and diminish the importance of reproduction and care. We argue that these discourses do not serve women, men, or children well. Although the women drew upon newer discourses which enable a more comfortable weaving together of their identities of mother and worker, this must not be seen as the total solution. What is needed is a more complete breakdown of the public/private divide: a society which values care and work, both as responsibilities and rewards of citizenship, and which will therefore allow both women and men to construct more balanced lives and identities.

Perceptions of Inclusive Early Intervention

Lesley Dunn
Ministry of Education

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 19 - 32.

Key words: Early intervention; inclusive education; views; community of practice

Abstract: This paper describes research into the perceptions of parents, early childhood centre teachers, speech-language therapists, early intervention teachers, and education support workers about their shared task in supporting children on early intervention programmes at three early childhood centres. The results are presented along three dimensions of a Community of Practice, namely: the domain, the community, and the practice. An overall conclusion of the study was that a greater degree of shared discussion among the parties would have enhanced their work. 

Disabled by the Discourse: Some Impacts of Normalising Mechanisms in Education and Society on the Lives of Disabled Children and their Families

Bernadette Macartney
University of Canterbury

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 33 - 50.

Key words: Disability; discourse analysis; family experience; inclusive education

Abstract: This paper challenges and explores some key effects of dominant discourses around disability that currently prevail in the New Zealand educational system and society through a consideration of one family’s experiences. The workings and impacts of a medical/special education view of disability and difference are analysed using data based on interviews and documents from my Doctoral research. Excerpts of data are used to demonstrate ways in which individualised and deficit views of disability impact on the construction of the child and their family. The implications of this for disabled children’s learning, participation and rights to an inclusive education are discussed.

“Pretend I’m Dead, eh”:  The Place of Death in Socio-Dramatic Play

Brent Mawson
University of Auckland

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 51 - 64.

Key words: Death; socio-dramatic play; play research; themes

Abstract: The themes and purposes of children’s socio-dramatic play are well documented, yet little has been written about death as a motif in play. Within a research project focussed on the collaborative play of a group of 3 and 4 year old children “pretend I’m dead eh!” emerged as a significant theme. Being dead was part of the play in 21 of the 85 episodes documented. The play was situated within clear understandings of conventions of ‘pretend’ death, and it served as a starting point for more complex scenarios. It was always liable to be faced with resistance and competing scenarios, and gender differences were evident. The possibility that this is an example of children’s ‘hidden’ curriculum that acts as a counter to prevailing early childhood teachers’ hidden curricula is explored.

Parent Education and Support through Early Childhood Centre Networks

Avril Thesing
University of Auckland

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 65 - 76 

Key words: Parent support; mothers; teacher-parent relationships; parent education

Abstract: Beyond the acknowledgement of parents’ considerable influence over their children, there are burgeoning concerns that when families are dysfunctional they have societal as well as local impact. In response there has been a steady growth of parent support programmes, recently documented as most successful when conducted within naturally occurring networks. This paper draws upon a study that set out to examine support for mothers in four New Zealand early childhood centres. Mothers gained support, uniquely responsive to child driven needs, through their own active relationship building and contribution to the centre community. Teachers and mothers held different definitions of support, resulting in the quality being compromised when teachers responded with low level socially co-operative practices. It is recommended that there be a greater emphasis on shared responsibility between teachers and parents to allow increased opportunities for parent contribution and increase resources within the centre community.   

A Critique of the Use of Learning Stories to Assess the Learning Dispositions of Young Children

Ken E. Blaiklock
Unitec Institute of Technology

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 77 - 88.

Key words: Assessment; Learning Stories; dispositions; learning; curriculum

Abstract: This paper discusses a number of concerns about the value of Learning Stories for assessing children’s learning in early childhood centres. The technique requires teachers to observe children and write narrative “stories” to show the learning that is occurring in particular situations. There is a focus on assessing children’s dispositions for learning rather than describing their knowledge and skill levels. Although there is some case-study documentation to support the value of Learning Stories, there is little evidence about the effectiveness of the widespread use of Learning Stories to assess and enhance children’s learning. Concerns about Learning Stories include: difficulties with establishing the validity or accountability of Learning Stories; problems with making subjective interpretations based on short observations; a lack of guidance on where, when and how often to make Learning Stories; problems with defining and assessing learning dispositions; and difficulties in using Learning Stories to show changes in children’s learning over time. 

Action Research in Early Childhood Centres: Balancing Research and Professional Development Goals

Carol Cardno
Unitec Institute of Technology

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 89 - 104.

Key words: Action research; early childhood education; professional development

Abstract: The role that research plays in the professional development of teachers and leaders is an on-going subject of debate. But, there is considerable agreement that when teachers take an ‘inquiry stance’ there is greater use of evidence in efforts to improve teaching and learning. Research partnerships between practitioners and academic researchers could create a valuable confluence of the goals of the research and professional development goals of action research. At the same time it is important to raise awareness of the possibility that the goals of research and the goals of professional development might be in conflict when these activities are uncritically assumed to be synonymous. In the course of one project employing action research the tension between research aims and professional development aims surfaced and led this researcher to reflect on a number of issues. Although practitioner partners in research projects may be committed to engaging in further cycles of action research, this seldom eventuates because such research is hard to sustain without external facilitation. Furthermore, there is a need to be critical about claims purporting action research activity when in fact action learning is occurring. At best practitioners in formal action research projects may achieve the status of temporary researchers. We need to challenge the view that they will have the resources to conduct and publish rigorous action research beyond such projects.

Early Literacy and the Transition to School: Issues for Early Childhood and Primary Educators

Claire McLachlan
Massey University

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 105 - 118.

Key words: Emergent literacy; transition to school; teachers’ roles

Abstract: The transition to school is a major event for many children and with it comes the transition into formal instruction in reading, writing and oral language. This paper examines the dominant approaches used internationally for promoting literacy during the transition from early childhood programmes to primary school. It also examines some key issues: teachers’ understandings of the predictors of literacy achievement; the importance of relationships; and establishing effective assessment and evaluation procedures. The implications for future research in this area are discussed.

Who Sleeps at Playcentre? Examining the Role of Early Childhood Regulations

Maureen Woodhams
Wellington Playcentre Association

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 119 - 124.

Key words: Regulations;standards; sleep; quality

Abstract: In 2006 the Wellington Playcentre Association collected data from its member centres about the sleep requirements of enrolled children in order to respond to the Ministry of Education’s draft criteria for the revision of the 1998 early childhood regulations. Early childhood regulations have the potential to provide agreed minimum conditions across early childhood services. However if any regulation is formulated without an information base on the needs and experiences of children in different early childhood services regulations may overburden services or have unintended negative consequences. This paper outlines the research undertaken and uses the findings to initiate a discussion about the roles of government and centre communities.

Engaging Couples in Family Leisure Research

David Lamb
Lincoln University

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 125 - 130.

Key words: Focus group; family; leisure, parenthood

Abstract: This paper provides a preliminary report on an investigation of the nature of leisure activities and experiences for couples with young children (4 months-2 years). Participants for the research study were sought through contacts at a range of early childhood centres and antenatal groups within Christchurch. The emphasis of the study was on the impact the arrival of a ‘new’ child may have on the nature of leisure for all family members. The study focused on one specific group (new parents) within a defined area (Christchurch) and utilised an exploratory research technique (focus group method). The key findings of this research arose as themes, concerned with, the lack of time; the availability of time for leisure; parenting ideologies and realities; changing leisure patterns and changed meanings to leisure, all due to the significant life event, they had experienced.

Making Meaning: Working towards Teacher Registration as a Community of Learners

Debbie Ryder
New Zealand College of Early Childhood Education

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 131 - 136

Key words: Teacher registration; reflection; professional development; practitioner research

Abstract: This paper looks at how a group of five early childhood teachers worked on their teacher registration process, from a group perspective and shows how a students’ research investigation directly and indirectly influenced the teachers’ registration process. The investigation occurred between 2005 and 2006 at one early childhood centre. The teachers met on a monthly basis to discuss their work. They also kept written reflections about their practises. The monthly registration discussion meeting helped to prompt and enrich their personal reflections. The combination of group discussion and personal reflections comprised the collective teacher registration programme.

Three Examples of Using Discourse Analysis in Early Childhood Research

Bernadette Macartney, Kate Ord and Lesley Robinson

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 137 - 148.

Key words: Discourse analysis; methodology; theory; discourses of disability

Abstract: In our three separate studies we took a discourse approach. Our paper begins with a brief outline of 'discourse' as a useful conceptual tool for interpreting how meaning is negotiated and constructed in contexts involving young children and their caregivers, teachers and parents. The central ideas are based on Michel Foucault's work (1976; 1977; 1980). Lesley's research focused on the talk of early childhood teachers. She sought to identify the discourses that surrounded the work of teachers in community-based childcare centres. Kate was interested in the discourse of 'preparedness' for teaching from teacher educator, institutional and student perspectives. Bernadette explored the experiences of parents who have a young disabled child, how they make sense of that aspect of their lives and how they interact with various 'discourses of disability'. We each introduce the topic of our study; discuss our reasons for using discourse analysis and how 'discourse' was used as a theory and method. Examples of data are included to illustrate and separate the approach we each took in our separate studies.

Using Online Technology in a Programme for Registering Teachers

Cheryl McConnell and Gillian Postlewaight
Eastern Institute of Technology

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 11, 2008, pp. 149 - 158.

Key words: Online learning; teacher registration; support and guidance programmes

Abstract: This paper reports on an initial phase of research into the Eastern Institute of Technology’s support and guidance programme for provisionally registered early childhood teachers. The programme was designed to provide a co-operative, collaborative space where teachers would engage in dialogue with each other and their supervising/tutor teacher. Some of this dialogue is online. This article focuses on the efficacy of using online technology for learning collaboratively and identifies factors that engaged the participants and contributed to their learning.


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