Early childhood teachers’ pedagogical practices: What they know, think, and do with young children experiencing parental separation and divorce

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

Societal changes have resulted in adjustments in attitude towards marriage, cohabitation, and commitment to relationships (Sabatelli & Ripoll, 2004). Parental separation and divorce involving children has become a common phenomenon in Australia. Recent statistics suggest there were one million dependent children living in Australia in 2010 who had experienced the separation or divorce of their parents (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2012). Children have varying experiences and exhibit myriad reactions to parental separation or divorce. These reactions have implications for classroom teachers (Hetherington, 2006). With informed knowledge and thinking, teachers can use pedagogical practices to facilitate well being and promote learning in young children who are experiencing parental separation or divorce (Miller, Ryan, & Morrison, 1999). This qualitative study explored the pedagogical practices of early childhood teachers, and what they know, think, and do with young children experiencing parental separation or divorce. The systematic grounded theory design, as espoused by Corbin and Strauss (2008), was applied in this study. Twenty-one semi-structured interviews and a focus group were used to explore the pedagogical practices of government school early childhood teachers in Victoria, Australia, regarding young children experiencing parental separation or divorce. Findings have revealed that teachers engaged a complex, pragmatic, and reflexive decision-making process to inform their work with young children experiencing parental separation or divorce. Key findings showed that teachers’ knowledge was informal and individual. Teachers have applied a range of reflexive thinking techniques to their knowledge to inform their pedagogical practice. The actions of teachers focussed on constructing emotional, behavioural, and academic support for young children, as well as constructing partnerships with parents, school personnel, and community members to assist them to construct support for children.The findings of this study have the potential to contribute to the development of a pedagogical decision-making framework to inform teachers’ work with young children experiencing parental separation or divorce. They will also contribute to scholarship by developing new knowledge about this phenomenon, as well as extending theoretical frameworks related to the thinking processes of early childhood teachers. Results from this study have the potential to influence policy by recommending consistent school policies and procedures within and across schools.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • Queensland University of Technology
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Walsh, Kerryann, Principal Supervisor, External person
  • Lunn, Joanne, Co-Supervisor, External person
  • Petriwskyj, Anne, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date13 Sep 2013
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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