Learning to Belong : Exploring Young Children's Participation at the Start of School book cover
1st Edition

Learning to Belong
Exploring Young Children's Participation at the Start of School

ISBN 9780415483681
Published April 28, 2009 by Routledge
128 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Building on highly topical research surrounding young children’s participation, this book draws on a diversity of disciplines exploring the importance of participatory approaches to children’s early education and shows how fostering a sense of identity and belonging are essential to early learning.

Taking young children seriously demands a high level of confidence and leadership in early years practitioners, and the author provides a convincing, well researched rationale for using this approach in early years contexts. The chapters

• demonstrate the importance of listening to the voices of the children,
• show how to help young children make sense of the rules and hierarchies they encounter in the classroom
• explore ways of working that include the young children but also allow adults to shape approaches to collective decision making

• use examples of the type of questions which children might ask when they first enter school, which are presented as ‘windows’ into children’s experiences via key moments or incidents in the school day
• provide a framework and practical tools for planning

This book is an important addition to debate about the politics and ethics of a highly prescribed and mainly developmentally-informed early years curriculum.  Researchers and students of early childhood education will find much here of interest to them.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Planning the project: Theory and practice in the classroom The schools The aims and questions The approaches: i. participatory action research ii. Ethnography The methods Participatory techniques with children Summary 2. What does it mean to belong: Belonging in English education Critical pedagogy in the early years The problem with ‘participation’ Theories of democracy Democracy, participation and education Summary 3. Participation in early childhood education: The early years classroom as a site for participation Listening to children and beyond Participation in recent early childhood policy Participation and early childhood curriculum Summary 4. Participatory work at the start of school: Studying young children The role of the researcher The role of the teacher The role of the child Children’s Perspectives Summary 5. What am I good at?: Introduction Competence Mastery You mean working as a team? Summary 6. Who’s my friend?: Loyalty and love The importance of care Playing at playing together Summary 7. Who’s in charge?: Doing as you’re told? Making Decisions You’re not coming to my party Summary 8. What am I allowed to do?: Routines and rituals Bending and unbending the rules The pattern of narrative Summary 9. How to plan for participation: Introduction Participatory methods Participatory practices Participatory projects Planning for participation Conclusion References

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Caroline Bath is Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies at Sheffield Hallam University.


" Although this book is recommended for researchers and students of early childhood education, it will inspire reception class teachers to develop the confidence and leadership necessary to really take children seriously." -- Early Years Update, Issue 84, December 2010.