"EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING IS KEY": EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS PERCEIVED ROLE IN SUPPORTING CHILDREN AND FAMILIES UNDERGOING CRISIS
1 School of Education and CI&DETS, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
2 School of Education, Polytechnic of Viseu (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:The study explored how experienced professionals conceive their pedagogical intervention with children experiencing crisis in their home environment, namely divorce, domestic violence and imprisonment of parents. The focus was on the relationship between the organization of the educational environment (organization of space, time and relationships in an ecological perspective) - one of the dimensions of Pedagogy of Childhood - and children's emotional well-being. The theoretical framework includes Laevers (2004) concepts of emotional well-being and involvement and Siraj-Blatchford (2002) and Figueiredo (2013) perspective of pedagogy as including different dimensions of which the educational environment is essential.
The research also builds on studies in Portugal about emotional well-being (Portugal & Laevers, 2010) and about the impact on children and their learning from crisis such as imprisoned parents (Afonso, 2005; Kominsky, Pinto & Miyashiro, 2005; Tavares, 2011), domestic violence (Batista, 2014; Lisboa et al., 2002; Ribeiro, 2010) and divorce (Martons, 2010; Rego, 2008).
The two teachers were chosen for their long teaching career (more than 25 years) and experience in schools from low socio-economical and socio-cultural backgrounds, specifically Romani families. In-depth interviews with both teachers and some observations of their classroom dynamics were analysed for emerging cross themes in this qualitative study. Anonymity was preserved throughout the study by the use of codes. The study was presented to the teachers and questions were presented in advance.
Both teachers expressed preference for adapting existing pedagogical tools (e.g. the classroom diary) and the daily dynamic to support children experiencing crisis in their home environment instead of using special interventions. Domestic violence was seen as the most problematic situation because of its repercussions. Attention to emotional well-being, a strong, supportive and open relationship with the child and the families were highlighted as important foundations to build the necessary support. Pedagogy was described as answering different challenges, with a strong emphasis on children's participation. A structured and secure daily routine was favoured by both teachers since it allows children to know what to expect next and to negotiate their particular needs in that frame. The main focus of both teachers was to assure the emotional well-being of the children both while at school and in their homes. This strong trend was not connected to strong theoretical knowledge of the concept. Both teachers had training and referred to it but relaid more on their experience and the way they "read" the specific child and the situation.
Thematizing teachers' pedagogical knowledge is important to acknowledge the difference teaching professionals can make in the support to children and families, in collaboration with other professionals.The fact that both teachers tailored their support to each case instead of following established protocols highlights the need to acknowledge the expertise of practitioners.
Keywords: Pedagogy, early childhood teacher, domestic violence, imprisoned parents, divorce.