New article: Children´s participation during the corona crisis and what staff in ECEC might do to enhance it

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This week, universities all over Finland are welcoming their new students to campus and both research and teaching is gearing up again after the summer break. Corona is the talk of the town, since things are not even next to normal yet. A variety of restrictions are adopted to minimize the risks of people getting infected. Currently, only first year students are allowed at campus, me and many of my collegues are distance working, and a majority of our research and teaching activities are realized with the help of digital tools.

Naturally, the corona issue must be addressed as a content in ECEC teacher education. It is a matter that affects young children´s lives in just so many ways right now. Students and teachers in ECEC need to embrace resources that allows them to handle the situation in the best ways possible. Most children are back in their settings, but there are tight restrictions to follow in order to prevent the virus from spreading out of control. It is a tough guess that the day-to-day life in ECEC settings is adapted in profound ways and that staff sometimes are left wondering about what the best practices might be. The same goes for student teachers doing their teaching practice right now.

Thus, I want to share with you an article that was published (in Swedish) by our research group in the beginning of July in the Nordic scientific journal BARN. The article focuses on children´s participation during the initial phase of the corona virus outbreak in Finland and Sweden (in late March 2020) and it sheds light on how children express their thoughts and feelings about the situation. The study shows that at the time, children´s participation was expressed regarding four prominent themes: 1) health realted issues, 2) existential worries and care, 3) social limitations and changed routines, and 4) play, humor, and creativity as a means to handle the situation. The article also addresses some of the implications for staff i.e. what approaches they could adopt in order to support children´s participation and thus strengthen their ability to deal with the effects of the corona crisis.

The article might give practitioners a deeper understanding of the importance of providing rich affordances for creative play and open dialogue, which gives children the opportunity to express themselves and to address the challenges that the corona crisis faces them with. These are among the best ways to support their resilience and strengthen their capacities to deal with life and it´s sometimes unpredictable challenges. As the article is among the first research published with a focus on children´s ways of perceiving and managing corona, I look forward to more studies on this topic shortly.

PS. The study has so far been published only in Swedish, but I will provide the English abstract below. Publication of the results in English is in progress, so I´ll let you know as soon as they are out.

English abstract

The corona pandemic is a new social crisis that is sparsely researched, and different perspectives on the corona virus are needed. This article helps to deepen the knowledge of children’s expres-sion of the corona virus. It highlights staff’s descriptions of children’s expressions regarding the coronavirus outbreak in Finland and Sweden in early childhood education contexts in March 2020. The empirical material consists of 79 questionnaires from early childhood education staff. The concepts participation and resilience have been used as theoretical background and these are discussed in the article. The analysis highlights four different forms of participation in relation to the outbreak of the virus. The article contributes to putting children’s participation in relation to a social crisis like the corona pandemic and shows a multifaceted participation. This can have implications both on attitudes and working methods in relation to crises.

Welcome!

This is the blog for a research project called LIVE PLAY LEARN, which runs in connection with the ECEC teacher education programme at the Åbo Akademi University in 2020-2022. The project aims to explore how children´s opportunities to develop their capacities to live a sustainable life can be strengthened by enhancing the sustainability work within day care and pre-primary units. A special interest is directed towards supporting a relational worldview, based on the understanding of oneself as deeply entangled with the entire web of Life.

We seek to explore practices and pedagogies that can contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle and to resilience among children and adults within ECEC. Nature contact, as well as holistic and arts-based approaches, are studied as paths towards a “pedagogy of hope and action” and our ambition is to promote truly transformative and transgressive learning processes among both children and adults.

The blog is our way of sharing our research endeavour with the world. We will post on both theoretical perspectives and research activities, as well as give you glimpses of the practices and pedagogies that children and adults in the project share with us. As we are connected to both ECEC teacher education and CPD, there will also be posts related to supporting teacher professionalism in sustainability matters both pre- and in-service. The blog will contain posts in English as well as in Swedish and Finnish, depending on the primary audience of each post*. We will also share links to valuable resources and publish research output (see the menu above).

So please follow, please comment, and please join us in our exploration of  how children and adults live, play, and learn as they embark on the journey towards sustainability together!

*The Åbo Akademi University operates mainly in Swedish, but is situated in a bilingual and multilingual context where research is communicated both in Finnish and English. As the university´s leading principles include diversity, openness, courage, sustainability, and participation, we want to “live as we learn” and include voices from various contexts in various languages.