Browsing Department of Human Services and Early Learning by Issue Date
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- ItemLet the children play: nature’s answer to early learning(2006) Hewes, JanePlay is a universal phenomenon with a pervasive and enduring presence in human history. Play has fascinated philosophers, painters, and poets for generations. Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the significance of play in the lives of children, acknowledging play as a specific right, in addition to and distinct from the child’s right to recreation and leisure. Early childhood educators have long recognized the power of play. The significant contribution of play to young children’s development is well documented in child psychology, anthropology, sociology, and in the theoretical frameworks of education, recreation, and communications. Being able to play is one of the key developmental tasks of early childhood. Play is “the leading source of development in the early years”: it is essential to children’s optimal development.
- ItemLearning through play: a view from the field(2010) Hewes, JaneThe summary of research on learning through play provided in the CEECD articles and accompanying commentary by Howe comes at a time when many play advocates believe that play is “under siege.” It also comes at a time when many Canadian early childhood educators are striving to secure a pedagogical focus on play in the development and implementation of early learning curricula. These reviews provide a valuable foundation for interpreting the available evidence on learning through play, as well as raising more fundamental questions about the significance of play in early childhood.
- ItemSeeking balance in motion: the role of spontaneous free play in promoting social and emotional health in early childhood care and education(2014) Hewes, JaneThere is accumulating scientific evidence of the potential of play and playfulness to enhance human capacity to respond to adversity and cope with the stresses of everyday life. In play we build a repertoire of adaptive, flexible responses to unexpected events, in an environment separated from the real consequences of those events. Playfulness helps us maintain social and emotional equilibrium in times of rapid change and stress. Through play, we experience flow—A feeling of being taken to another place, out of time, where we have controlled of the world. This paper argues that spontaneous free play, controlled and directed by children and understood from the child’s perspective, contributes to children’s subjective experience of well-being, building a foundation for life-long social and emotional health. The paradoxical nature of young children’s spontaneous free play is explored. Adaptability, control, flexibility, resilience and balance result from the experience of uncertainty, unpredictability, novelty and non-productivity. These essential dimensions of young children’s spontaneous free play typically produce play which is experienced by adults as chaotic, nonsensical and disruptive. The article concludes with a preliminary discussion of the challenges and possibilities of providing for spontaneous free play indoors, in early childhood care and education programs.
- ItemSocial comparison, competition, and teacher-student relationships in junior high school classrooms predict bullying and victimization(2016) Di Stasio, Maria; Savage, Robert; Buros, GiovaniThis cross-sectional research examines how social comparison, competition and teacher–student relationships as classroom characteristics are associated with bullying and victimization among junior high school students in grades 7 and 8 in Canada. The study tests a conceptual model of youth outcomes that highlights the importance of modeling the effects of teaching practices as proximal structural conditions at the classroom level (N = 38) that affect bullying outcomes at the individual level (N = 687). Results of Hierarchal linear modeling (HLM) revealed significant classroom-level effects in that increased social comparison, competition and teacher–student relationships were related to bullying and victimization. An interaction for teacher–student relationships and gender also emerged. These findings may guide future intervention programs for junior high schools that focus on enhancing cooperation and pro-social behavior in classrooms. The findings could also inform programs that focus on building strong relationships between students and teachers to help prevent bullying and victimization, particularly among boys.
- ItemPlaying, early learning and meaning making: early childhood curriculum unfolding(2017) Makovichuk, Lee; Lirette, Patricia; Hewes, Jane; Aamot, BrittanyPlay, Participation, and Possibilities: An Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework for Alberta is a sociocultural curriculum framework intended to provoke dialogue on and thinking about young children’s playing and learning. Viewing curriculum as situated, contested and always-already happening in early childhood programs, the authors draw on a mini-narrative of children’s play and educator practices to make visible what it means to co-construct curriculum in the here and now with young children. They describe curriculum-meaning-making processes that support deep and further complexified thinking, including pedagogical dialogue, critical revisiting of pedagogical documentation and curriculum crosschecking. Through honouring young children as mighty learners and citizens, and co-imagining possibilities, multiple new potentialities for children’s play and learning are revealed.
- Item(Re)encountering walls, tattoos, and chickadees: disrupting discursive tenacity(2018) Whitty, Pam; Hewes, Jane; Rose, Sherry; Lirette, Patricia; Makovichuk, LeeIn this article, three pedagogic encounters — “Encountering the Wall,” “Encountering Young Tattooed Parents,” and “Encountering Chickadees”—conceptualized as curricular meeting places, are theoretically reconceptualized within alternative bodies of literature. Theoretical reconceptualization revealed complexities of early childhood pedagogies and the tenacity of dominant discursive practices of developmentalism, constructed, in these instances, through age-segregated settings, parenting programs, and nature pedagogy. Theoretical reconceptualizing of these encounters worked to disrupt embodied subjugations of age-segregated children, mothers and fathers, chickadees, educators, families, and researchers.
- ItemAnimating a curriculum framework through educator co-inquiry: co-learning, co- researching and co- imagining possibilities(2019) Hewes, Jane; Lirette, Patricia; Makovichuk, Lee; McCarron, RebekahThe shift toward a pedagogical foundation for professional practice in early childhood along with the introduction of curriculum frameworks in early learning and child care, calls for approaches to professional learning that move beyond transmission modes of learning towards engaged, localized, participatory models that encourage critical reflection and investigation of pedagogy within specific settings. In this paper, we describe ongoing participatory research that explores educator co-inquiry as an approach to animating a curriculum framework. A story of curriculum meaning making that opened a hopeful space for critical pedagogical reflection and changed practice serves as a basis for deeper reflection.
- ItemSystem kids: transition-aged youth from foster care to developmental services(2019) Hutton, Sue; Head, Kevin John; Lyttle, Sarah; Jordyn; Kenneally, Noah; Rehou, MajaThis paper shines a light on the stories of three young adults labeled with an intellectual disability1; all three have transitioned out of foster care and are now receiving developmental services in different settings in Ontario. All three have experienced varying degrees of human rights violations throughout their time in foster care as well as in developmental services. By human rights violations, we mean violations that are not necessarily always under the law, but violations to make their own decisions throughout any given day. This point shall be illuminated through the stories of the three youth who share details of these violations in concrete terms. The three have come from a diversity of backgrounds, representing what it is like to grow up in the system with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and with mobility disabilities. All three want people to know the truth about what it is like surviving the system with an intellectual disability, not only in foster care, but now, continuing to live “trapped” (as one of the young adults calls it) in the confines of the often rights- restricting world of developmental services. We balance the stories with background on the setting of developmental services and service delivery for transitional aged youth (in this paper we shall say “youth” as our co-authors have chosen) with a literature review and with interviews from developmental services staff in Ontario agency settings. This paper includes the stories of the three young adults providing their truths – painful and honest, in both written form and in graphic form. The graphic data collected provides an accessible visual depiction of the isolation and pain endured in the system.
- ItemPhenomenology of a parent-child goodbye on the first day of school(2020) Makovichuk, LeeAs a milestone in a child’s life, the first day of school is a much-anticipated event. Preparations usually begin well in advance as families shop for school supplies, visit the school, and talk about what school will be like. Regardless of the many preparations, the moment of saying goodbye on the first day of school is sometimes a lot more difficult than either the child or the parent was prepared for; it can also slip unnoticed in the busyness of arriving and leaving; it could provoke a memory of a child’s birth; it may precipitate a parent’s sudden realization that their arms are empty. This paper explores the often-overlooked phenomenon of the parent-child goodbye on the first day of school. It reflects on singular parental experiences of preparation, expectation, and relationality. Lippitz’s (2007) inquiry into foreignness of school invites wonder about the child’s transformation to student and what that might mean for a parent. Drawing from van Manen’s (2015) phenomenology of pedagogical tactfulness, it offers insights into the relationality between a parent-child goodbye and the teacher-student hello. Exploring what makes the parent-child goodbye on the first day of school, as a unique experience, opens new possibilities for understanding the meaning of a child’s transition to school for the parent.
- ItemPassionate about early childhood educational policy, practice, and pedagogy: exploring intersections between discourses, experiences, and feelings...knitting new terms of belonging(2020) Whitty, Pam; Lysack, Monica; Lirette, Patricia; Lehrer, Joanne; Hewes, JaneWe are five early childhood researchers, from across Canada, thrown together amongst a series of alarming discourses, where developmental, economic, and neuroscientific rationales for ECEC drown out alternative theoretical perspectives, as well as personal experience, values, subjective knowledges, and the fierce passion we feel for our work. In the midst of this "throwntogethness" (Massey, 2005), how do we bring our situated knowings and desires to these discursive material relational mashups? How do we engage with the throwntogetherness that is the Canadian ECEC field as we knit together alternative ways of being, doing, and acting, figuring out what resonates in localized situations (Osgood, 2006)? To begin to answer these questions, we think with feminist theory (Bezanson; 2018; Langford et al., 2016; Prentice, 2009); the politics of the event of place, (Massey, 2005) and relational and spatial networked discursive entanglements (Massey, 2005; Nichols et al., 2012; Ingold, 1995; Haraway, 2016) as we untangle three vignettes related to advocating for a competent universal public ECEC system; writing post-developmental curriculum frameworks; and weaving productive relationships between university researchers and early childhood practitioners. These vignettes illuminate our struggles to "stay with the trouble," as Haraway (2016) suggests, stubbornly hanging on to the hope of producing new terms of belonging (Burns & Lundh, 2011) as a form of resistance, allowing us to open up spaces to imagine, tell alternative stories (Moss, 2014), and create real change within our local contexts.
- Item“This is a pit of fire”: associations of play materials with children’s creativity during play and internal state language(2020) Howe, Nina; Tavassoli, Nasim; Leach, Jamie; Farhat, Fadwa; DeHart, GanieThis study investigated how specific characteristics of multipiece, miniature, realistic play props (thematically open-ended village set versus thematically closed-ended train set) designed to enhance children’s pretense influenced their scenario creativity, object transformations, and the frequency and use of specific internal-state language. The sample consisted of 7-year-olds (n = 52) focal children playing with a sibling and a friend and focused on associations of play scenarios (i.e., set-up/organization, expected scenarios, creative scenarios), object use (i.e., set-up/organization, expected use, creative use, and no object), and internal-state language (i.e., references to cognitions, goals, emotions, preferences). Children engaged in more expected scenarios and object use with the closed-ended train set than with the open-ended village set. Play set differentially impacted the use of internal-state language: More references to goals were evident during train play, whereas a trend indicated that children employed more references to cognitions with the village. The pattern of findings indicates that children’s play communications may be associated with specific types of play props; thus, different play props may enhance pretense in different ways.
- ItemCripping the controversies: Ontario rights-based debates in sexuality education(2020) Davies, Adam W. J.; Kenneally, NoahComprehensive sexuality education is increasingly being employed on a global scale, with controversies arising regarding the content of such education and the rights of children to access sexuality education versus parents’ rights to decide the moral education of their children. In this paper, we utilise crip theory and a critical disability studies lens to analyse controversies surrounding parents’ rights versus children’s rights in the context of comprehensive sexuality education in Ontario, Canada. Using a disability studies perspective, this paper discusses the erasure of disabled children and youth in debates over children’s and parents’ rights while problematising the liberal humanist and legal frameworks often employed in comprehensive sexuality education and children’s rights. As such, we theorise how a more relationally attuned version of both children’s rights and comprehensive sexuality education can avoid oppositional politics and the reification of liberal humanist and ableist ideologies.
- ItemChildren’s connectedness with siblings and friends from early to middle childhood during play(2021) Leach, Jamie; Howe, Nina; DeHart, GanieThe purpose of the present study was to investigate children’s connected communication during play with a sibling and friend from early to middle childhood. Participants included 65 4-year-old focal children at time 1 (T1) and 46 7-year-old focal children at time 2 (T2) who were videotaped at home in separate semi-structured free play sessions with an older or younger sibling and a same-aged friend at both time points. Data were coded for connectedness in communication (e.g., smooth and flowing or disjointed and fragmented) across relationship contexts and time. Research Findings: Focal children made more failed attempts at establishing connectedness and engaged in more self-talk with their siblings than with their friends, whereas they maintained connectedness more often with their friends. In terms of the partners’ balance of participation, at T1 focal children ended connected interactions more often than their siblings, and the siblings engaged in more self-talk and unclear statements. In contrast, the balance of participation did not differ between friends at T1 and T2, nor did siblings differ at T2, suggesting friend partners made equal contributions to the play interactions, whereas developmental differences were apparent for siblings. Practice or Policy: The findings contribute to our understanding of developmental and relationship differences of children’s connected communication during play from early to middle childhood. Parents and educators need to be aware that opportunities for connection and disconnection during sibling play are typical and provide experiences for children to practice communication skills.
- ItemDRAVET ENGAGE. Parent caregivers of children with Dravet Syndrome: Perspectives, needs, and opportunities for clinical research(2021) Juandó-Prats, Clara; James, Emma; Bilder, Deborah A.; McNair, Lindsay; Kenneally, Noah; Helfer, Jennifer; Huang, Norman; Vila, Maria Candida; Sullivan, Joseph; Wirrell, Elaine; Rico, SalvadorDravet syndrome (DS) is an intractable developmental and epileptic encephalopathy significantly impacting affected children and their families. A novel, one-time, adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene regulation therapy was designed to treat the underlying cause of DS, potentially improving the full spectrum of DS manifestations. To ensure the first-in-human clinical trial addresses meaningful outcomes for patients and families, we examined their perspectives, priorities, goals, and desired outcomes in the design phase through a mixed methods approach (quantitative and qualitative). We conducted a non-identifiable parent caregiver survey, shared through a patient advocacy organization (n = 36 parents; children age 6 years). Parents were also engaged via three group discussions (n = 10; children age 2– 20 years) and optional follow-up in-depth individual interviews (n = 6). Qualitative data analysis followed an inductive interpretive process, and qualitative researchers conducted a thematic analysis with a narrative approach. Survey results revealed most children (94%) were diagnosed by age 1, with onset of seizures at mean age 6.2 months and other DS manifestations before 2 years. The most desired disease aspects to address with potential new disease-modifying therapies were severe seizures (ranked by 92% of caregivers) and communication issues (development, expressive, receptive; 72–83%). Qualitative results showed the need for trial outcomes that recognize the impact of DS on the whole family. Parents eventually hope for trials including children of all ages and were both excited about the potential positive impact of a one-time disease-modifying therapy and mindful of potential long-term implications. Participants reflected on the details and risks of a clinical trial design (e.g., sham procedures) and described the different factors that relate to their decision to participate in a trial. Their main aspirations were to stop neurodevelopmental stagnation, to reduce seizures, and to reduce the impact on their families’ wellbeing. To our knowledge, this is the first study within a patient-oriented research framework that specifically explored parents’ needs and perceptions regarding clinical trials of a potential disease-modifying therapy for children with a severe, developmental disease, such as DS.
- ItemFlight paths and theatre for early years audiences(2021) Ayles, Robyn; Fitzsimmons-Frey, Heather; Mykietyshyn, MargaretThis article proposes using the holistic play-based goals and model of co-inquiry discussed in Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework (2014) as a way to interpret very young children’s responses to theatrical experiences as theatre criticism. The process encourages wondering and reflecting on multiple possible meanings of children’s embodied, vocal, and play-based responses. Through an exploration of documentary evidence from The Urban Wildlife Project, our immersive theatre research outlines how the early childhood education processes can be adapted to a theatre context to listen to children’s responses on their own terms.
- ItemLinking quantities and symbols in early numeracy learning(2022) LeFevre, Jo-Anne; Skwarchuk, Sheri-Lynn; Sowinski, Carla; Cankaya, OzlemWhat is the foundational knowledge that children rely on to provide meaning as they construct an exact symbolic number system? People and animals can quickly and accurately distinguish small exact quantities (i.e., 1 to 3). One possibility is that children’s ability to map small quantities to spoken number words supports their developing exact number system. To test this hypothesis, it is important to have valid and reliable measures of the efficiency of quantity-number word mapping. In the present study, we explored the reliability and validity of a measure for assessing the efficiency of mapping between small quantities and number words – speeded naming of quantity. Study 1 (N = 128) with 5- and 6-year-old children and Study 2 (N = 182) with 3- and 4-year-old children show that the speeded naming of quantities is a simple and reliable measure that is correlated with individual differences in children’s developing numeracy knowledge. This measure could provide a useful tool for testing comprehensive theories of how children develop their symbolic number representations.
- ItemExamining fatigue for bilingual/multilingual students who are deaf or hard of hearing through the framework of universal design for learning(2022) Rohatyn-Martin, Natalia K.; Hayward, Denyse V.In current educational contexts, Deaf or hard of hearing (D/HH) students are being educated in inclusive classrooms. However, academic and social outcomes for these bilingual or multilingual students remain highly variable indicating that meeting the needs for students who are D/HH continues to be challenging for many educators. Many D/HH students are reporting high levels of fatigue throughout their school day. To ensure the diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds of students are being met, a more flexible approach needs to be considered to address barriers described by D/HH students. As such, the authors use the Universal Design for Learning framework to discuss fatigue for students who are D/HH in inclusive contexts, particularly those who are bilingual/multilingual.
- ItemHarnessing the power of flight: devising responsive theatre for the very young(2022) Ayles, Robyn; Fitzsimmons-Frey, Heather; Mykietyshyn, MargaretSuccessful theatre hinges on relationships. In our research, we devised an immersive theatre piece about urban wildlife through key early childhood education concepts outlined in the Canadian document Flight: Alberta’s Early Learning and Care Framework. The project’s guiding question was: How could we better understand audience engagement in the early years demographic by using the reflective process, rights-based perspectives, and holistic play-based goals of the Flight framework to interpret children’s experiences? Our creative team aimed to develop democratic and playful relationships with children during theatrical exploration, and using the Flight framework to analyse what children were communicating grounded our theatre creation and dramaturgy in respectful and agentic relationships between actors, theatrical objects, and young children.
- ItemThe influence of parenting dimensions and junior high school students’ involvement in bullying(2023) Rinaldi, Christina; Bulut, Okan; Muth, Tracy; Di Stasio, MariaBullying by peers remains a serious problem facing adolescents. A key social support for adolescents is their parents. The unique contributions of specific dimensions comprising authoritative parenting, and adolescents’ involvement in bullying situations was investigated. Self-report data were collected from 125 grade 7 students and 100 grade 8 students (60% female; mean age = 12.74 years). Model testing indicated a positive relationship between parent support, beliefs against aggression, high levels of communication, and low levels of bullying and victimization, both in self-reports, and in effectiveness of problem-solving in hypothetical bullying situations. Results indicate that warm, supportive parenting influences the way adolescents consult with their parents about how to manage conflict, deal with bullying issues, and identify solutions to interpersonal problems. The implications of these findings may influence the comprehensiveness of prevention and intervention models that focus on the aspects of parental education.
- ItemA snapshot of gay-straight alliance clubs and student well-being in Western Canadian high schools(2023) Di Stasio, Maria; Alston, Lauren; Harley, JasonGay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs promote safer school environments for students. GSAs typically refer to student-led, teacher-supported school clubs that serve youth of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. This study investigated the relationship between students’ awareness of school-based GSAs and their bullying experiences, mental health, self-determination, and relationships at school and home. Findings showed that LGBTQ2S+ students experienced higher rates of bullying and symptoms of depression and scored lower on self-determination subscales than cisgender heterosexual students. Interestingly, students who were aware of their school’s GSA club scored higher on the self-determination subscales regarding family relationships and lower on bullying compared to students who were unaware of their school’s GSA club. LGBTQ2S+ students had lower rates of comfort with their sexual orientation at home and school than their cisgender heterosexual students. Implications and future directions are discussed.