Liz Brooker: Making this my space: Infants’ and toddlers’ use of resources in a new setting

Date / Time: 3 July 2012 3-4pm
Venue: TC.2.27, Faculty of Education

Liz Brooker
Liz Brooker

Liz Brooker spent many years as an early years teacher before returning to study and teach in the University of London where she is now a Reader in Early Childhood. Her research has focused on children’s experiences of transition, including their earliest moves into childcare as infants. These experiences are understood as moves into and through cultural spaces where children develop new identities through participating in new activities and relationships with the support of adults and peers.

This study is concerned with the ways in which children aged from about 6 to 36 months construct a sense of belonging and a settled identity in their out-of-home setting. A sociocultural understanding of this process describes the child’s development as the transformation of participation in cultural activities (Rogoff, 1990, 2003) and views the ‘space’ into which the child moves as a cultural space. Such spaces are furnished with cultural artefacts and practices, the products of generations of previous parenting and care-giving endeavours, all of which convey messages about ‘what it is to be a child in this place’. These ‘cultural spaces’ are further shaped by the contemporary policy and curriculum contexts which regulate them.

The data for this paper are drawn from observations of children, and interviews with their Key Persons and parents, in a London children’s centre. Overall, the paper seeks to explore (i) the evidence of small children’s own agency in taking possession of a space and constructing a suitable relationship with it, and (ii) the supportive roles played by adults, peers, routines and artefacts as this process unfolds.

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