Young children's explorations: young children's research?

Research output: Contribution to conference typesPaperResearchpeer-review

Abstract

As an early years’ teacher, I witnessed children from two years frequently exploring in their early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings and ‘exploration’ is a recognised as research behaviour. However, children are generally barred from the spaces inhabited by academics and policymakers. Formal research dissemination positioning children as the researchers tends to focus on those older than eight years and when children are recognised as researchers, it is usually in the context of enquiry dominated by adult agendas and research design. Excluding young children’s own enquiries from recognition conflicts with ‘new sociology’ perspectives positioning children as competent social actors. A small-scale interpretive study was developed to explore this paradox. Underpinned by BERA’s ethical framework (2004), the study employed critical ethnographic case studies within a constructivist grounded theory approach.To begin, professional researchers reconfirmed ‘exploration’ as one of thirty-nine research behaviours and indicated young children aged 4-8 years and their practitioners as ‘theoretical sampling’. Multi-modal case studies were constructed with children (n=138) and their practitioners (n=18) in three ECEC settings judged ‘Good’ by independent inspectors. This paper addresses questions focused on ‘exploration’, one research behaviour reconfirmed by professional researchers. It asks: Do young children aged 4-8 years in three ECEC settings explore? If so, what are their explorations and what affects them? Do young children’s explorations count as research? Findings indicate that 7-8-year-old children in a predominantly teacher-directed setting were frequently observed ‘off-task’, in pursuance of their own explorations. Notwithstanding this, 7-8-year-old children in a teacher-directed setting explored less than 4-5-year-old children in open framework settings where varied resources, time, space, freedom, stimulation and affirmation from adults were characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011
EventBritish Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference - Birmingham, UK
Duration: 1 Feb 2011 → …

Conference

ConferenceBritish Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference
Period1/02/11 → …

Fingerprint

early childhood education and care
teacher
social actor
grounded theory
research planning
sociology
resources

Keywords

  • Play
  • case study
  • children’s perspectives
  • knowledge
  • real world

Cite this

Murray, J. (2011). Young children's explorations: young children's research?. Paper presented at British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference, .
Murray, Jane. / Young children's explorations: young children's research?. Paper presented at British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference, .
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Murray, J 2011, 'Young children's explorations: young children's research?' Paper presented at British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference, 1/02/11, .

Young children's explorations: young children's research? / Murray, Jane.

2011. Paper presented at British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference, .

Research output: Contribution to conference typesPaperResearchpeer-review

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Murray J. Young children's explorations: young children's research?. 2011. Paper presented at British Early Childhood Education Research Association (BECERA) Inaugural Conference, .