Strengthening belonging and identity for immigrant families through early childhood education

Principal Investigator: Linda Mitchell Associate Investigators: Dr Amanda Bateman, Dr Elaine Khoo & Dr Lesley Rameka PhD Scholar: Raella Kahuroa Research Assistant: Yasmin Serhan Advisor: Professor Margaret Carr & Professor Bronwen Cowie
International Consultant: Dr Lynn Ang, Institute of Education, London
Teachers from Crawshaw Kindergarten, Hillcrest Kindergarten, Iqra Educare and Pakuranga Baptist Kindergarten

Project Dates: January 2018 - March 2020

Partnerships: Project funding by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI)

Research Team members from left: Yasmin Serhan, Raella Kahuroa, Amanda Bateman, Linda Mitchell, Lynn Ang and Margaret Carr.

The aim of the research

The project will develop theories and practice strategies on how Early Childhood Education can enable immigrant families and children to construct positive outcomes for belonging and participating in Aotearoa New Zealand while sustaining and contributing important cultural aspects from their home country. Specifically, the project will focus on the affordances of children's storytelling and play in providing opportunities for supporting and belonging and in art-based, play based pedagogies in enabling teachers to engage with children, parents and whānau. Our understanding and strategies developed over the course of the research will be published in a resource package for teachers.

Why is the research important?

In 2016, UNICEF warned of the growing global crisis for refugee and immigrant children and of evidence that circumstances for a significant number are highly disadvantageous. Refugees are from countries where there has been war, ethnic, political or religious persecution, famine and poverty. Recent immigrants may lack social networks and support from family members. This project explores pedagogies in early childhood education to enhance refugee and immigrants belonging and participation in Aotearoa New Zealand and the mutual benefits for all ECE participants in learning from each other.

Who could this research help inform?

This research will be of particular interest to early childhood managers, teachers and students. The resource package, developed with participating teachers from the four kindergartens and education and care centres in the study will be disseminated widely. It will encapsulate the theorising, strategies and tools used and provide a key practice value. No such package has been developed from up to date research and evidence for New Zealand ECE settings working with immigrant and refugee families and children. Teachers are highly appreciative of resources developed and based on practice in actual early childhood settings, and of the power of well -written narratives and exemplars to help them transform their own practice.