Children and celebrations: considering children’s voice

Year: 2018

Author: Busch, Gillian, Theobald, Maryanne, Hayes, Marion

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In Australia, more than 300 languages are spoken in homes and more than 100 religions are identified as significant to families, thus highlighting the cultural diversity of the Australian population (ABS, 2017). The increasing diversity in communities means that a wide range of cultural practices and events are relevant to children and families in educational settings. While celebrations present opportunities for children to share their cultural and family identity, the increasing diversity of classrooms has implications for the way celebrations are conducted. Whose has rights to celebrate, what will be celebrated, the relevance of celebration in the education settings are matters for consideration. This Australian study investigates children’s perspectives on what counts as a celebration. It draws on data of video-recorded conversations between young children (aged 3-5 years) and educators at a kindergarten in regional Queensland as they plan for and implement an end of year celebration.  Following participatory methods that profile children’s voice in research children were asked their views about celebrations and to plan how they would like to mark the end of year event as they transition from kindergarten to formal schooling. Fine-grained analyses of the conversations highlight children’s competencies as participants in planning a celebration and that children and educators oriented to matters of governance. Findings will be discussed in relation to Article 12, Children’s right to participate and have influence over matters that affect them (United Nations, 1989) and the governance of early childhood education. Implications of this research emphasize that pedagogical approaches adopted by educators regarding celebrations are contingent on a commitment to both children’s rights and respect for diversity.
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