Department of Human Services and Early Learning

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    “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, Ganie
    This 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.
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    Children’s connectedness with siblings and friends from early to middle childhood during play
    (2021) Leach, Jamie; Howe, Nina; DeHart, Ganie
    The 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.
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    Phenomenology of a parent-child goodbye on the first day of school
    (2020) Makovichuk, Lee
    As 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.
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    Passionate 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, Jane
    We 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.
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    Animating a curriculum framework through educator co-inquiry: co-learning, co- researching and co- imagining possibilities
    (2019) Hewes, Jane; Lirette, Patricia; Makovichuk, Lee; McCarron, Rebekah
    The 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.