NZ Research in ECE Journal Volume 10 (2007)

early childhood research journal

Children’s Views of their World

Freda Briggs
University of South Australia
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 3 - 14.

Key words: Children’s views; teachers; school; grandparents; leisure time; religion

Abstract: This paper discusses findings from research with Australian and New Zealand children of 5-8 years over a three year period plus an additional study involving 900 Tasmanian children concentrating on their views of grandparents. The research has provided a rich qualitative data base on children’s thinking about many topics. Teachers, schooling, religion, leisure and grandparents are the main topics focused on in this paper. The findings demonstrate the value of talking with children and hopefully this paper will inspire others to research children’s views.

Including Men in Early Childhood Education: Insights from the European Experience

Jan Peeters
University of Ghent, Belgium
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 15 - 24.

Key words: Men; gender; Europe; pedagogy; recruitment; men-only training; employment; equal opportunities

Abstract: The European Commission Network on Childcare introduced gender as an issue in early childhood services in Europe. In 1996 the Network set a target of 20% male workers in childcare that had to be reached by 2006. Several campaigns and interesting initiatives were set up and were successful in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Belgium, but no European country has reached the target. This has led us to investigate the reasons why early childcare and education is so gendered. Childcare is seen as women’s work, something that women naturally do and are intrinsically better at. In addition, as gendered work assumes a female workforce, it is constantly reproducing its own patterns in recruitment and training. Several authors advocate on the one hand a gender-neutral culture that does not exclude men, and on the other hand they plead for gender pedagogy, a reflection on the differences between boys and girls, men and women. This paper examines the crucial question of what can be done to increase the employment of men. It discusses possible policy measures, men-only training courses, male mentorship of trainees, recruitment procedures that give equal opportunities to men, ways of remodelling the sector and of creating a men-friendly climate to make men visible in services.

Quality in Time and Space: Defining ‘Quality’ in a Canadian Context

Helen Penn
University of East London
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 25 - 32.

Key words: Quality; childcare; Canada; for-profit; governance; child rights; globalism

Abstract: This paper discusses how a European initiative to discuss quality in childcare, which was developed and disseminated over a seven year period, was taken up and used 10 years later in Canada. As one of the authors of the original European document on quality, I discuss shifts in thinking about ‘quality’ across time and space. Questions that emerged when re-writing the document on quality childcare for a Canadian audience were: (1) an increase in women’s participation in the workforce, (2) the rapid increase in the number of early years services and in particular services run for-profit, (3) issues of governance, (4) multiculturalism, (5) environment and globalism and (6) child rights.

Inside the Greenhouse: Hothousing, Cultivating, Tending or Nurturing Precocious Readers?

Valerie Margrain
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 33 - 46.

Key words: Reading; hothousing; advanced learning; academic ability

Abstract: This paper adds to the debate about hothousing through reports of a study of 11 young children who are able to read at advanced levels at an early age, without formal instruction (Margrain, 2005). Precocious readers have learned to read ‘spontaneously’, with self-regulation and self-motivation. The 11 four-year-old children in this study were not stressed, pressured or formally taught to read, yet had reading accuracy ages up to 10 years 8 months, comprehension ages up to 7 years 5 months, and fluency rates up to 13 years. Sigel (1987) defines hothousing as “the process of inducing infants to acquire knowledge that is typically acquired at a later developmental level” (p. 212). If young children are able to acquire early and advanced knowledge without this being induced by adults, then they should not be considered as hothoused. Instead, children’s individual motivation, skills and abilities should be acknowledged and responded to; and the support that responsive parents give to their children should be valued and respected.

Physical Activity in Early Childhood: Current State of Knowledge

Melody Oliverand Grant M. Schofield
Auckland University of Technology

Gregory S. Kolt
University of Western Sydney

Claire McLachlan
Massey University
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 47 - 68.

Key words: Physical activity; sedentary; early childhood; health

Abstract: This paper provides findings from a review of literature relating to physical activity (PA) in the early childhood years (children aged <5 years). Activity in early childhood may confer considerable health gain, including improved bone health and a reduced risk of being overweight. Increased sedentary time may have a negative influence on physical health. Exactly how much PA is required, and what types of activity are important for health gain in young children is yet to be determined. There is a paucity of information pertaining to PA and cognitive development, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease risk factors for this age group. As well, there is limited information regarding the activity profiles of pre-school children, and the determinants of both PA and sedentary behaviour. It is likely that factors in both the family and early childhood centre environments are related to PA and/orsedentary behaviours. Knowledge regarding PA and early childhood health, development, and learning is limited. Longitudinal research is required to track PA patterns of young children, identify potential health outcomes, and social and environmental determinants of PA and sedentary behaviour in early childhood and beyond. Collaborative links between health and education providers and PA and health researchers are required to promote consistent PA messages.

Cognitive Schemes and Scripts: Research Evidence from Children’s Drawings

E. Beverley Lambert
Charles Sturt University, New South Wales
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 69 - 80.

Key words: Cognition; drawing; script; scheme theories

Abstract: Children and adults unconsciously organise their knowledge and memory about things into schemes and scripts. This paper presents selected data from four research projects that explores these two theoretical perspectives through the medium of eight children’s drawings. The paper concludes that while script and scheme theories of cognition do not provide a complete account of cognitive progression, they nonetheless have relevance for educators in understanding the cognitive frames of reference children draw upon which in turn, help to explain the diversity in children’s thinking. 

“A Kind of Serene Feeling Washing Over the Centre”: Perceptions of Staff and Trained Observers Regarding the Use of Background Music

Daphne Rickson
New Zealand School of Music, Wellington

Stuart McLaren and Linda Jones
Massey University, Wellington

NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 81 - 94. 

Key words: Background music; preschool noise; teacher learning

Abstract: Noise in early childhood settings can reach potentially harmful levels. Carefully planned background music was introduced to help reduce activity generated noise in one preschool in New Zealand. This paper presents one aspect of the study – the impact of the music as perceived by trained observers and staff at the preschool. The study employed a small ‘n’ (ABCB) design. Over four non-consecutive weeks observers measured the perceived level of noise under baseline, ‘background music’, and ‘no music’ conditions. Staff were also interviewed about any changes they might have noticed. Background music was believed to have assisted in creating an auditory environment which is likely to be conducive to positive social interaction and learning. Findings suggest that management of music is also crucial. Staff in preschool settings might benefit from the support music therapists can offer in planning and implementing a programme of background music to reduce noise levels during specific periods of the day, in their centres.

Case Studies from the New Entrant Classroom: Children’s Developing Repertoires of Participation

Bill Hagan
Manukau Institute of Technology
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 95 - 104.

Key words: School adjustment; peer effects; learning curriculum

Abstract: Two studies investigated the role of teaching practice that may ‘transform’ the participation of new entrant children in the classroom. This process is seen as developing social participation, negotiated in the classroom between teacher and child and peers (Dyson, 1997). Analysis of the systematic observations of the enacted curriculum in the second study highlights the importance of the teacher structuring activities to maximize participation and engagement with learning. The analysis may also contribute to a clearer understanding of each child’s developing participation strategies, as well as how the teacher can extend children’s repertoires and build on the social practices of the classroom and school. The relative absence of studies that describe the relationship between curriculum process and social development in facilitating a successful adjustment to school highlights the need for further empirical study.

Parental Stress and Child Rearing Decisions

Colene Gray and Margaret Sims
Edith Cowan University, Western Australia
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 105 - 118. 

Key words: Parenting; families; stress; diversity

Abstract: In our modern society parenting is a difficult and undervalued task. Today parents raise children in isolation with very little support yet face immense criticism when they experience problems. Families who do not fit the western image of the ‘ideal family’ face even more stress (as they are pressured to conform) yet often find that available services do not easily meet their needs. This paper uses conversational interviews to develop a shared understanding of the experiences of these parents. The factors identified in this research were:  the interaction between the desire to parent differently than their own parents, their stress levels, the satisfaction they experienced from the parenting role and their ability to develop a range of coping strategies. Coping strategies focused around the role of religion, culture and routines in providing frameworks for shaping their new lives, and the availability of practical and emotional support in giving parents the resources to manage.

Border Crossings: Early Childhood Teachers’ Experiences in Healthcare Settings

Marianne Kayes
Starship Children’s Health

Clare Hocking and Ann Paddy
Auckland University of Technology
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 119 - 130.

Key words: Hospital play specialist; novice practitioner; professional development; professional recognition; multidisciplinary teams

Abstract: The experiences of eight New Zealand early childhood teachers in the months following their appointment as hospital play specialists were studied. This paper focuses specifically on the challenges they faced in acquiring role-related knowledge and skills, establishing a professional identity, and gaining a sense of belonging. Initially the teachers found the transition to their new role overwhelming and threatening to their understanding of themselves as competent teachers. Despite this, the teachers were found to be resourceful in coping with change, in building relationships, and in developing and adapting their practice.

Theoretical Transitions and Professional Learning: How do Early Childhood Teachers Understand Sociocultural Theory?

Suzy Edwards
Monash University
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 131 - 144.

Key words:  Curriculum; sociocultural theory; practice

Abstract: In recent years, early childhood education has increasingly drawn on sociocultural explanations for learning and development to inform discussion surrounding curriculum and practice. Theoretically, such discussion has provided a means of addressing critiques levelled at the use of the historically dominant developmental-constructivist approach. How this debate plays out in practice and how teachers engage in the transition from developmental to sociocultural theory as an informant to their practice represents an important and emerging area of research. This paper reports the findings from a project aimed at determining teachers’ understandings of sociocultural theory in relation to their practice and their existing interpretations of children’s development and learning. Situated within the professional learning literature, the project found that teachers understood sociocultural theory as either confirming their existing beliefs, as deepening their understandings of children’s development or significantly challenging their existing beliefs and practices. Critically, how teachers understand sociocultural theory holds implications for the extent to which the theory is adequately implemented in practice as a theoretical informant in its own right rather than being assimilated to the discourse of developmental-constructivism.

Putting Rhizomes to Work: (E)merging Methodologies

Marg Sellers
Whitireia Community Polytechnic

Eileen Honan
The University of Queensland
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 145 - 154.

Key words:  Rhizomatic thought; methodology; Deleuze; Guattari; children’s video making

Abstract: In this paper, we explore an approach to rhizomatic methodology. We map the connections and disconnections between and across pathways involved in writing a rhizomatic text that is non-linear and self-consciously part of the research method. Using rhizomatic thought, we analyse discourses operating within the data following Deleuzian lines of flight that connect and link disparate forms of data. (E)merging readings enable an interconnecting analysis of the process of making videos with children, with their artworks and with the video transcripts. Also, as disconnections become visible they illuminate the impossibility of establishing some kind of formulaic methodology that would neatly answer Buchanan’s question of “how does it work?” Like Alvermann (2000, p. 125), we attempt to avoid “concretizing” a process that is “open and connectable in all its dimensions” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987, p. 12) and offer this paper as one particular and specific reading of the contributions that Deleuzian theories can make to educational research methods.

Researching Authenticity: The Relationship between Kindergarten Teachers’ Espoused Theories and their Actual Practices

Bronwyn Reynolds
Unitec New Zealand
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 155 - 168.

Key words: Kindergarten teachers; theory and practice; pedagogy

Abstract: This paper reports on a study that investigated the relationship between 12 Melbourne kindergarten teachers’ espoused theories and their actual practices. The Framework of Perspectives and Descriptions of Practice (Raban et al., 2003a, 2003b) was used to guide the study. The theoretical perspectives of 10 out of the 12 teachers’ did not match their actual practices. The teachers who espoused critical considerations involved children in more interactive and explorative pedagogical experiences than the teachers who did not espouse such thinking. Higher qualifications or more years of teaching experience were not linked to greater congruence between the teachers’ espoused theories and observed practices.

The Early Childhood Practicum as a Social System

Margaret Turnbull
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 169 - 182.

Key words: Student teacher; professional agency; practicum; social system

Abstract: In this paper, the early childhood practicum is conceptualised as a social system. Understanding the practicum as a social system will provide key players with a context that enables insight into its inherent structural properties and into the significance of the intersections of practice. If key players developed knowledge and understanding of the structural properties of the practicum and of the transformative nature of the intersections of practice, there would be greater provision for student teacher professional agency in the practicum.

The Men as Role Models Argument: A Case for Researching Children’s Views

Richard Harty
University of East London
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 183 - 190.

Key words: Male teachers; role-model theory; children’s views

Abstract: The theory that male teachers provide positive role models that can counter any negative male role models and compensate for the absence of men in children’s lives is considered in this paper. The review is positioned in the European context where there have been consistent calls over the years for an increase in the number of male teachers. It highlights the dearth of literature that attempts to identify and include the voices of very young children within the debate on the inclusion of men in early years education. My early analysis of the literature and my own pilot study of primary aged children’s views suggest the possibility that children may not necessarily agree with the gender role model idea. The paper argues that a way forward for research on teacher gender, and in particular on the role model argument, would be to include children’s voices.

How Do Young Children Who Are Gifted Play In An Early Childhood Centre Setting?

Caterina Murphy
Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/New Zealand Childcare Association
NZRECE Journal, Vol. 10, 2007, pp. 191 - 198.

Key words: Giftedness; play; environments

Abstract: This paper reports on a thesis study which examined how young children who are gifted play in an early childhood setting. The study adds to an earlier study conducted by the writer and begins to address the dearth of New Zealand research in the early childhood sector concerning gifted education. Two case study children and five teachers from one early childhood centre in the North Island of New Zealand participated in the research. The children were observed and interviewed and their portfolios compiled by the teachers were analysed. The teachers were interviewed. Certain characteristics of giftedness were found to come to the fore during the children’s play and the children had particular play preferences. Specific ways of interacting during play and other playful experiences were noted by the research. 

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