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The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of what we know about young children’s peer conflict in early childhood educational settings and how teachers can support children to develop skills in conflict resolution. This chapter begins with a review of the types of disputes in the early years, how children respond to opposition from other children and a discussion of learning opportunities in the practices of negotiation and compromise. The discussion also shows that teacher intervention is either solicited by children when they are stuck in a repetitive stalemate or instigated by the teacher when disputes escalate. Data extracts illustrate how intervention can be managed productively, where teachers guide children to identify and implement solutions. The analysis shows that intervention is most effective when the teacher monitors and encourages the uptake of solutions proposed by the children themselves. Finally, this chapter outlines implications for practice in early childhood education, in supporting children to resolve disputes.
This chapter provides an overview of how the Handbook contributes to a deeper understanding of teaching and learning interactions in early childhood education. To begin, we highlight the skillful work of teachers in their interactions with young children and the centrality of these interactions to learning and development. We then explain how research in conversation analysis serves as a professional learning resource for early childhood teachers, given the transparency and accessibility of the method and the illustrations of practice provided by transcripts of interactions in early learning environments. We also provide a brief overview of the wealth of studies in conversation analysis in early childhood and consider what this body of research contributes to our understanding of pedagogy. Finally, an overview of each chapter in this Handbook shows how recordings of teachers talking with children can reveal the distinct mechanisms of high-quality interactions and how these elements can be incorporated into everyday pedagogical practice in early childhood environments.
Research evidence in early childhood education and care underscores the importance of high-quality interactions between children and educators – be they teachers, childcare workers, parents or family members – for improving children’s outcomes. We know that rich conversations can support and extend children’s interests through language and attuned feedback, essential for children’s learning and development. The introductory chapter explained that while the importance of high-quality interactions is widely acknowledged in early childhood education, how this can be achieved deserves more attention. Every chapter in this book details particular types of talk between children, their peers and educators, where all authors use conversation analysis to achieve this goal. The aim of this chapter is to introduce and explain the fundamentals of the methodology of conversation analysis and how conversation analysis is ‘done’ so that readers can engage with the analysis and findings in the chapters that follow. We also draw attention to the usefulness of a conversation analysis approach in ECEC research and practice.
Early childhood teachers know that the quality of child-teacher interactions has an impact on children's social and educational outcomes. Talking with children is central to early learning, but the significant details of high quality conversations in early childhood settings are not always obvious. This Handbook brings together experts from across the globe to share evidence of teachers talking with children in early learning environments. It applies the methodology of conversation analysis to questions about early childhood education, and shows why this method of studying discourse can be a valuable resource for professional development in early childhood. Each chapter of this Handbook includes an up-to-date literature review; shows how interactional pedagogy can be achieved in everyday interactions; and demonstrates how to apply this learning in practice. It offers unique insights into real-life early childhood education practices, based on robust research findings, and provides practical advice for teaching and talking with children.
Amelia Church, Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne,
Jane Page, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.,
Susan Wright, Arts Education and Director of the UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne,
Collette Tayler, Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne
1. consider the role of research in building understanding of how children learn and how teaching can affect positive outcomes for children
2. learn about methodologies commonly used in research in early childhood education and care programs, and how teachers and young children can be active researchers
3. discover how research methods inform a systematic and intentional approach in supporting learning and teaching
4. consider the ethical issues particular to research with young children in early childhood programs.
Research in early childhood education and care (ECEC) programs is increasingly focused on the practices or process of high-quality teaching in early learning settings and the primacy of learning with families in the home environment. Furthermore, research in ECEC is drawing policy attention to the importance of very early learning in the period from birth to the age of three, as evidence from neuroscience underscores the significance of early experiences for a child's brain development and functioning (see also Chapter 1 and Chapter 2). Research in ECEC necessarily acknowledges children's rights (see also Chapter 3) as a core consideration of research design. Over the past four decades, a great deal of work has been done in adapting or establishing methodologies and methods that enable children's voices to be heard. This chapter is informed by these two key influences – how evidence contributes to our understanding of learning and teaching in the early years, and how research ethics is a central platform of ECEC research – and focuses on approaches to research. Each case study in this chapter is drawn from contemporary research projects in early childhood and they each illustrate methods that are productive in eliciting children's experiences and knowledge. These three research case studies in turn highlight the role research plays in shaping practice and policy in early learning and teaching.
The role research plays in shaping practice and policy in early learning and teaching
Research plays an important role in the lives of teachers. Throughout this text we highlight the ways in which research:
• provides evidence of what constitutes effective high-quality teaching, and learning practices and processes
• influences the policies that frame the roles of teachers
• provides insights into the complexities and nuances of advancing young children's learning across diverse social and cultural contexts
• supports families with distinct and differing learning interests and priorities.
As other contributors to this volume have shown, children's communications are often misheard or unheard. One reason is that in many settings children are powerless to make themselves heard. Another is that adults do not have sufficient understanding of how children communicate. For example, young children are active participants in constructing their own social worlds, yet adults may impinge on this process without a full understanding of how children go about creating rule-governed environments in which they are capable agents. This chapter shows how conversation analysis can be a tool for understanding how children communicate and engage, how they deal with conflict and how adults can support their autonomy rather than undermine it.
Children's arguments are a productive site for researchers to investigate children's competencies and this chapter explores how young children resolve verbal disputes with peers. Examples of spontaneous arguments between four-year-old children illustrate that although disputes are not always resolved, there are three very distinct possible outcomes: resolution, abandonment and teacher intervention. Conversation analysis of these three dispute ‘closings’ reveals that very specific linguistic resources are used by young children to manage disagreements with peers. Linguistic research shows us that we go about responding to other speakers in very particular ways. Preference organisation is a concept which explains that responses – to requests, invitations and so on – are normally performed in one of two ways (preferred or dispreferred) and that these ‘turn shapes’ are marked consistently throughout all types of discourse. This concept of preference is introduced later in the chapter, but is brought to the reader's attention here as it proves to be a governing principle in young children's disputes with peers.
It stands to reason that once an argument has begun there are only two possible outcomes: continuation or dissipation. In other words, once children have engaged in verbal conflict, the only alternatives are to sustain the dispute or to arrive at some sort of ending. It is the closing of disputes that is of particular interest here, because the continuation of conflict is essentially defined by the absence of a conclusion. Throughout this chapter, an analysis of closings in children's spontaneous peer disputes is documented, namely by distinguishing three possible closings: resolution, abandonment and teacher intervention.
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