Social capital and sense of community: What do they mean for young children's success at school?

Year: 2005

Author: Tennent, Lee, Farrell, Ann, Tayler, Collette, Patterson, Carla

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Growing evidence suggests that high levels of social capital have wide-ranging benefits for families and communities. In particular, some studies indicate that social capital is linked to school success. These studies reveal that communities with high levels of social capital, as evidenced by strong social networks, feelings of trust and safety and community participation, afford children access to supports, information, resources, and role models that can contribute to positive academic outcomes. Related to social capital, sense of community has also been associated with success at school. This paper reports on selected findings from child data collected during the first phase of a 3-year longitudinal study of several communities in Queensland with recently established early childhood and family centres. 389 children (aged 4-8 years) in 5 localities in Queensland were recruited from early childhood services including schools and kindergartens. The children participated in research conversations relating to social capital, sense of community, and their health and wellbeing. Significant differences were found between the children in the communities on all dimensions of social capital and of sense of community. Differences in wellbeing were also revealed. Positive correlations were confirmed between children's social capital, sense of community and self-reported wellbeing.