Belonging: an authentic inclusion of children's voices
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 01:24 by Selma Jo Wastell
Belonging, as a term and a concept, has entered the popular lexicon and is a current theme that is extensively referred to in a variety of everyday and academic contexts. The term presumes a shared understanding, yet despite its common usage, theoretical literature suggests that this is not an accurate assumption. This research investigated what 'belonging' meant to a group of young children aged between 3 and 5 years in an early chidhood service, and the implication of their understandings for both policy and practise. A rights based, participatory approach framed the research and a modified Mosaic approach supported data generation and allowed for the inclusion of the child's voice. The possibility that the children were capable of engaging with a conceptual topic like belonging was assumed, and the findings supported this assumption. The results revealed new aspects of belonging that reflected these young children's conceptualisations. Core concepts of 'belonging to people' and 'belonging to place' had been identified in the literature. However, what emerged was the significance of elements of time, belongings from home, shared interests and agency which, when linked to these children's emotional connections with others and their connection to place, gave meaning and depth to their conceptualisations. The research confirmed that young children are indeed capable of understanding and expressing complex cognitive concepts like belonging when provided with a context conducive to this.