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Sammanfattning: The present study investigates the negotiations that take place in play among the youngest children in preschool. What are their negotiations about? How do they negotiate? What kinds of strategies do they use during their negotiations? The study has its focus on learning about fellowship through practice and experience in the negotiations that take place among the youngest preschool children. The study’s relevance also relates to the development of pedagogical practice among the youngest children in preschools. The theoretical platform is comprised of the perspectives of childhood psychology (Sommer, 2004) and childhood sociology (Corsaro, 2002). In both perspectives children are regarded as competent active in producing their own culture and active in calling on information and learning. The main concepts used in the analysis of the empirical data are ‘inter-subjectivity’ and ’the role of others’. The concepts are based on the theoretical frameworks of Daniel Stern (1991) and George Herbert Mead (1962). A group of twenty four children, thirteen girls and eleven boys, aged between two to three, were regularly video recorded. The children were enrolled in day-care groups in two of the biggest cities in Norway. The study reveals that the negotiations that take place among the children are mainly about their relationships, play materials, and the content of their play. They negotiate both verbally and nonverbally. They express their intentions towards each other with words and through gestures, glances, laughter and smiles. They use different strategies in their negotiations that relate to content and intentions. They also seem to develop or change their strategy if, for example, an initial strategy is not successful. Their strategies can be both emotional and connected to solving problems. In addition, they often use humour as a strategy. The study shows that the children who play the most with others and who know each other best, are those who are most successful in their negotiations. They often have a common focus and common intentions, as well as sharing emotional conditions in their play and negotiations. It seems that those children who are the most competent playmates are also those who are most competent in negotiations. The reason for this might be the connection between play and negotiations. To be able to play successfully demands that those sharing the play are prepared for negotiations about relations, play materials and the content of the play. However, the children’s negotiations depend on their previous experiences in this field. The more experienced the youngest children are in negotiations, the more complex and flexible their negotiations might be. A pedagogical consequence of this study is that staff in preschools should support the smallest children by giving them more time to meet and play together. This can give the children extended possibilities to develop their own strategies of negotiations in play. This in turn will support children’s learning in becoming creative, seeking and reflective individuals who create their own space of action. The experiences children are gaining through negotiations in play might also be important for other situations of negotiation, contributions and democratic practice.
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