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Researchers study sense of belonging among toddlers

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Researchers from Charles Sturt University (CSU) are being sponsored by the Australian Research Council (ARC) to make a study on how early childhood education for Australian toddlers and babies may be improved based on their “sense of belonging”.

The $227,000 project, called “Babies, ethnographies of belonging in ‘at risk’ communities, and the new compulsory Early Years Learning Framework”, is a study led by CSU professor of early childhood education Jennifer Sumsion with her fellow CSU academics professor of early childhood education Linda Harisson and professor of psychology Ben Bradley. The three are members of CSU’s Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE).

The three researchers will also be collaborating with a partner company, Centre Support, as part of ARC Linkage Project objective of encouraging partnerships between higher education researchers and public, private and not-for-profit organisations.

According to Sumsion, they aspire to make accounts of babies’ and toddlers’ sense of belonging in early childhood education settings to help educators in the execution of the new national early childhood curriculum required for their service, or the Early Years Learning Framework.

Sumsion and Harrison had been lead authors of the Early Years Learning Framework promoted by the Council of Australian Governments in 2009.

“We will also explore ways in which babies and toddlers might contribute to parents’, staff and older children’s sense of belonging,” Sumsion said.

The research team planned to collect data through observations, interviews and other means of collecting information such as diaries, spatial mapping and mathematical analyses of the social behaviours exhibited by babies.

“The project will assist us to develop new understandings about how a sense of belonging can be fostered in early childhood education, especially for babies and their families in marginalised and at risk communities,” Sumsion stressed.

It is expected that the study will be completed by 2016.

 

 

 

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