Infants, family day care and the politics of belonging

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Abstract

Belonging has long been conceptualised as a fundamental human need, essential for the good health of individuals and communities. In relation to young children, belonging may be linked to their developing sense of identity, as well as the way they perceive and respond to others. Belonging is emerging as an important aspect of contemporary early childhood education and care (ECEC) curriculum such as Te Wha-riki from New Zealand and Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF). There is the potential for belonging to become a romanticised, simplistic and taken for granted notion within ECEC. Following Sumsion and Wong's (Contemp Issues Early Child 12:28-45, 2011) call for belonging to be taken up in critical and reflective ways in ECEC, and Peers and Fleer's (Educ Philos Theory, doi:10.1080/00131857.2013.781495, 2013) concerns regarding the inadequacy of everyday understandings of belonging to the full realisation of the intent of the EYLF, this paper is an attempt to begin problematizing the notion of belonging in early childhood, particularly in relation to infants in family day care (FDC). Conceptualisations of belonging across disciplines are discussed, with particular attention to the notions of a sense of belonging and the politics of belonging. Particular aspects of FDC that may be important to consider in relation to belonging are drawn out, namely its purported home- and family-like nature. Finally, in relation to infants, we argue that any discussion of infants' belonging in ECEC must include the peer group and the active role that infants may play in the politics of belonging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-186
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
Volume46
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

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