272 – Conceptualisations of wellbeing in early childhood education and care: Where is literacy?

Presentation - ECV2022-272

Conceptualisations of wellbeing in early childhood education and care: Where is literacy?

Lisa Baker, University of Melbourne, Australia (lisa.baker@unimelb.edu.au)

Background: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child prompted an international conversation about children’s special rights and wellbeing, and is a guiding document for professional practice in early childhood education and care (ECEC). Since its ratification, wellbeing and education continue to be informed and changed by scientific advances, public policy, and pedagogical perspectives. Wellbeing, as a social, moral and economic imperative may be greater than ever. As we have new theories for and about wellbeing, nuanced models and ways of thinking could and should be afforded to ECEC.

Aim: To examine how the concept of wellbeing is used, defined and described in early childhood education documents and policies, and introduce the relevance of the capability model of wellbeing literacy in ECEC.

Method:  A qualitative summative content analysis was conducted on selected Australian and international ECEC documents (policy and curricula) to assess how wellbeing is conceptualised.

Results: Wellbeing is used in many ways in ECEC documents in Australia and internationally. Definitions are rare and wellbeing is broadly positioned – from risk, protection and safety; health, hygiene and comfort; family, connection and resilience; to learning, development, physical, and outcome. Its conceptualisation as a literacy is not evident.

Conclusions: Neuroscientific, theoretical and pedagogical shifts have occurred in recent decades, with vast growth in wellbeing science research that can be applied to ECEC pedagogy and practice. Wellbeing literacy is a relevant, contemporary literacy in ECEC. Further research and collaboration between ECEC and wellbeing science, for shared discourse, theoretical and practical applications is timely.

Implications for children and families: Vocabulary and knowledge about and for wellbeing (wellbeing literacy) may support child and family communication and provide new ways to think about child wellbeing.

Implications for practitioners: Contemporary wellbeing interventions and literacies ought to be at the fingertips of early childhood professionals in Australia and internationally. The provision of multi-disciplinarily informed pedagogy and practice for and about wellbeing (such as wellbeing literacy) is timely and vital.

Key words: wellbeing, communication, early literacy, wellbeing literacy, education, policy, government, qualitative methods, review, theory

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

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