The research theme 'Belonging' aims to develop new knowledge on the topic so that all children can experience belonging, social participation and interaction in early childhood education and care (ECEC).

Children and ECEC teacher playing together on the floor. Photo: iStock

In the Framework Plan for ECEC, belonging is described as a basic, human need on an equal par with care and safety. Children are supposed to experience safety, belonging and well-being in ECEC.

Norwegian society is increasingly becoming a multicultural society and ECEC reflects this. Belonging is a very relevant and important topic in diverse ECEC.  Therefore, there is clearly a need for more knowledge about children’s belonging regardless of background.

Belonging, a basic need

“We will study the processes around belonging in ECEC, including the interaction between children and the interaction between staff and children, as well as parents,” says Marit Alvestad, project manager for this work package.

Research refers to various challenges when it comes to inclusive pedagogy. In this area, there is a need for more research on how belonging is applied in ECEC centres’ everyday practices.

“Through projects, together with the field of practice and the ECEC teacher training, we are going to contribute to develop belonging in a broad sense, considering that all children are to have a good start in life. Belonging is fundamental to children in terms of their well-being, play, exploration and learning in everyday life,” Alvestad explains.

Large project is central in the research

The “Politics of Belonging” research project is central in the work package. The overall research question is: “How do the politics of belonging emerge in the intersection between the macro-level politics and the daily lives of educators, other professionals, children, and parents in different educational settings?”

The study “Politics of Belonging” is a collaboration between a number of researchers in Norway, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands, supported by NordForsk and led by professor Eva Johansson. In this study, the researchers want to find out what views, interpretations and experiences children, ECEC staff and parents have when it comes to belonging in communities.

In a mapping phase

Quality in ECEC is studied over a period of time in the GoBaN project.

"In GoBaN, we are now conducting an in-depth study on quality in ECEC, which we can build on in terms of research regarding quality and diversity,” Alvestad says.

Several ongoing studies are central in the work package Belonging. Examples of topics in these studies are issues related to leadership and profession. These studies and others will be able to form a basis for the development of new joint projects.