University Of Tasmania
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Early childhood programs for social inclusion : examining cognitions, emotions and social dispositions

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posted on 2023-05-27, 11:56 authored by Ac, R
Currently, in Australia and overseas, the term social inclusion‚ÄövÑvp is widely used within social policy to inform thinking and practice as a means to reduce inequalities. In the area of education policy, a key goal is to strengthen social inclusion by encouraging parents with pre-school children to engage in socio-educational and community support services. Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) programs strive to provide equal opportunities for all children and particularly target families at risk of exclusion. This research examines whether social skill acquisition can be assumed as mostly a cognitive choice/awareness or if emotional influences prevail and inhibit social inclusion for some people. It is argued that social policy strategies and educational practices may benefit from two theoretical approaches: Bourdieu's notion that a person's social dispositions can elicit exclusion if not conducive with dominant culturally-defined expectations; and Bowlby's attachment theory, explaining the emotional foundation of social inclusion and exclusion. Qualitative research methods, involving practitioner interviews and parent discussions, were used in this research to develop some understandings about the facilitation of social inclusion. Data were collected across two sites, Launching into Learning (LiL) and Child and Family Centres (CFCs), both situated in low socio-economic (SES) areas in Tasmania, Australia. Major themes arising from the data were theoretically analysed by applying sociological and attachment theories. The overall findings were that regularly participating parents appeared cognitively aware of the benefits and chose to engage in the programs with an expectation of socio-educational rewards for both themselves and their children. Conversely, those who were disinclined to participate seemed to experience negative emotional feelings in unfamiliar social groups/settings. This research is significant as it extends and refines understanding of the emotional side of social inclusion. A more in-depth understanding of the emotional aspect of social inclusion, within ECEC approaches, is hoped to strengthen participation in early childhood/family support programs.


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