Perceptions of Children's Rights in Three Early Childhood Settings
The purpose of this thesis was to investigate perceptions of young children's rights in early childhood settings and contribute to the expanding discourse about children's rights. The research focus canvassed teachers', parents', and young children's perceptions of their rights in early childhood settings: How did they understand children's rights, and what did these perceptions mean for them in the early childhood settings they participated in? A qualitative, interpretive approach to the research generated data through interviews with young children, teachers, and adults, focus groups with the adult participants, and observations of day-to-day life in the three case study centres. The early childhood centres selected represented three mainstream services and included a teacher-led creche for under-two-year-olds, a sessional state, teacher-led kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds, and a parent-led playcentre for mixed ages from birth to six years old. NVIVO, a qualitative data classifying computer program, was used initially to sort and categorise the data alongside more conventional methods for coding categories and identifying emerging themes. The research found that perceptions of children's rights were interwoven, interrelated, and interdependent. Provision rights, protections rights, and participation rights are recognised categories of children's rights. These categories were used to foreground participants' perceptions of rights in particular early childhood settings. Findings suggest that more in-depth awareness of children's rights in early childhood settings would support the development of a children's rights-based pedagogy. This thesis potentially contributes to a growing body of international research about children's rights with a particular focus on the early childhood sector in New Zealand Aotearoa. The contribution that this thesis makes is both theoretical and sociological. It combines sociocultural constructs and ecological perspective with an international human rights convention to understand more clearly what children's rights mean in an early childhood sector. The study of childhood sociology is relatively new and challenges universal definitions of childhood and child. This thesis highlights how different conceptual theoretical ideas intersect with diverse sociological constructs. The broad conclusion drawn by this thesis is that for children to participate fully in their early education, the ethos of the community of practice/learners must explicate what that participation entails in a particular context.