Peer Culture in an Icelandic Preschool and the Engagement of Children with Diverse Cultural Backgrounds

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The aim of this research was to gain a deeper understanding of young children’s participation in a diverse peer culture within an Icelandic preschool and their sense of belonging in the preschool community. The participants were 12 children, aged 5–6 years. Data were constructed with each child while they engaged in a walking tour of the preschool in which children took photographs of features of interest as a basis for a subsequent conversation. Participant observations in the preschool classroom were also undertaken to understand in more detail the nature of children’s relationships with each other. Children with Icelandic backgrounds had more power and control in play activities than children with diverse backgrounds. Children who had been enrolled at the preschool for longer periods and who were more fluent in the Icelandic language had greater participatory opportunities than children with more recent enrolment and less experience with the Icelandic language. To ensure a more just preschool community in which all children experience belonging, teachers can encourage children to support and welcome other children’s different experiences and backgrounds, build communication skills and friendships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-64
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by: The Icelandic Center for Research, Educational Continuity: Supporting Positive Transition for Children from Diverse Backgrounds (Project nr. 163325-052). It was also supported through the research project, Politics of belonging: Promoting children?s inclusion in educational settings across borders, funded by NordForsk (Project nr: 85644) and the University of Iceland Research Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Other keywords

  • Belonging
  • Children’s perspectives
  • Participation
  • Peer culture
  • Preschool
  • Walking tours


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