Gildismat og sýn starfsfólks leikskóla á fullgildi í fjölbreyttum barnahópi

Translated title of the contribution: Preschool Educators’ Values and Perspectives on Belonging in Diverse Groups of Children

Jóhanna Einarsdóttir, Eyrún María Rúnarsdóttir

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Preschool children’s relationships with their peers and their educators are essential for
their education and well-being. If these relationships are strong, children experience
a feeling of belonging to their preschool community. This study is informed by the
concept of ‘belonging’ (Yuval-Davis, 2006; Juutinen, 2018). It refers to participation
and relationships and the feeling of belonging to a group of children in preschool.
With increasing diversity in the preschool population, it is important to understand
how preschool educators support children’s belonging. The aim of the study is to shed
light on educators’ values and perspectives on children’s belonging in preschool. The
study also explored whether diverse views on children and belonging were mirrored in
the educators’ responses and how they saw the power positions of children with diverse
language and cultural backgrounds.
The research questions are as follows:
1. Do the participants have different perspectives on children and belonging?
2. Which values are reflected by the educators’ perspectives and practices on belonging?
3. How do the educators see their role in supporting children and families to foster
belonging in preschool?
4. What are the educators’ perspectives on the power positions of children with diverse
language and cultural backgrounds?
Globalization and increased diversity have a formative influence on educators’ practices.
Icelandic society has evolved during a short period of time, from a homogeneous
society to a diverse society. Every year the number of preschool children with diverse
language and cultural backgrounds increases and thus, during a short period of time,
preschools have become intercultural arenas. In 2009, 1,614 preschool children had a
home language other than Icelandic; by 2019, this number increased to 2,713 children
(Hagstofa Íslands, 2020a). Research has shown that children with foreign backgrounds
are in danger of being left out of their peer group and, thus, the support of educators can
be crucial for their belonging in the preschool community (Eyrún María Rúnarsdóttir
& Svava Rán Valgeirsdóttir, 2019; Jóhanna Einarsdóttir & Sara M. Ólafsdóttir, 2020a,
2020b; Sadownik, 2018).
Data was gathered through an electronic survey which 143 preschool educators in Iceland
answered. Approximately half of the respondents were preschool teachers and/or had a
bachelor’s degree, one fourth had completed a master’s degree or a diploma following
a bachelor’s degree, and one fourth had high school diploma or other education. The
findings indicate convergence in the views and values of the participants, especially
regarding their perspectives on the competences of children and practices to support
belonging in preschools. Responses varied according to education level and period of
employment. However, most participants replied that their aim was for all children to
be included in the group and for all children to be accepted “as they are.” Most of the
educators also felt that parents should be consulted and expressed their willingness to
include parents in the preschool practices. This is consistent with the national curriculum
guidelines for preschool emphasis (Mennta- og menningarmálaráðuneytið, 2012).
In the educators’ responses, their perspectives on children’s competences and abilities
to influence the preschool pedagogy were evident. Those who had preschool teacher
education or master’s degrees believed more strongly in children’s competences and
abilities to invite other children to participate than those with less education. When the
participants were asked to choose between children learning belonging through play and
interaction with other children or from them being role models for the children, those
with a master’s degree were more likely to believe that children learned through play and
relationships with other children. They were also more likely to find children competent
to understand perspectives of children who had different competences and backgrounds.
Concerning the power position of children, the educators mainly thought language
could exclude children from their peer group and were concerned about the position
of children with diverse language and cultural backgrounds. Few mentioned culture or
religion, issues that previous research has shown to be important for children’s belonging
(Kalkman & Clark, 2017; Kernan, 2010; Sadownik, 2018). The participants showed
willingness to promote belonging among children with foreign backgrounds through
understanding and discussion about diversity and emphasis on peer friendships.
Translated title of the contributionPreschool Educators’ Values and Perspectives on Belonging in Diverse Groups of Children
Original languageIcelandic
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Other keywords

  • Belonging
  • educators' values
  • Children with diverse language and cultural background
  • Preschool Practice


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