239 – How do infants socialise in groups in long day care centres?

Presentation - ECV2022-239

How do infants socialise in groups in long day care centres?

Belinda Friezer, Charles Sturt University, Australia (bfriezer@bigpond.com)
Linda Harrison, Macquarie University, Australia (linda.j.harrison@mq.edu.au)
Sheena Elwick, Charles Sturt University, Australia (selwick@csu.edu.au)

Background: Long day care provides opportunities for infants to develop the skills needed to participate in and contribute to group play with similar aged peers. Although researchers have described some of the ways that infants interact in groups, little is understood about how they develop socially in groups across the first two years of life.

Aim: To determine how infants communicate and interact with other same-age children in group settings.

Method: A mixed methods research design using the triad (a third infant interacting with an infant-peer dyad) as the unit of analysis was undertaken. Participants were 20 focus infants (aged 3 to 21 months), and four early childhood educators from two long day care centres in Sydney, Australia. A total of 564 videoed observations of infant triads and 18 educator interviews were collected over 19-months and analysed using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Results: Infants’ social communications towards the infant-peer dyad included looking, vocalising, touch, facial expressions, and simultaneous rhythmic interactions involving bodily movements, sound and shared emotion.

Conclusions: Infant-peer groups are open, flexible and dynamic systems consisting of fleeting group processes that involve infants changing social positions, breaking interactions between their peers, looking to educators, and taking pauses.

Implications for children and families: In long day care, your child is learning about the relationships between their peers, the intentions of their play, and how to enter and sustain peer group play.

Implications for practitioners: Being aware of and recognising the processes that underlie infant-peer groups will help you to promote infants’ social interactions.

Key words: communication, infant-peer groups, social development

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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