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    Is every child's voice heard? Longitudinal case studies of 3-year-old children’s communicative strategies at home and in a preschool playgroup

    Flewitt, Rosie ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1986-0644 (2003) Is every child's voice heard? Longitudinal case studies of 3-year-old children’s communicative strategies at home and in a preschool playgroup. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Southampton.


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    This ESRC funded study investigates how young children integrate a range of multimodal strategies, including talk, body movement, gesture and gaze, to make and express meaning at home and playgroup during their first year in preschool. Using longitudinal ethnographic video case studies of four 3-year-old children, two boys and two girls, the study identifies patterns in the children’s uses of different communicative strategies that relate to the dynamics of the social, institutional and immediate contexts in which they are situated, particularly with regard to whether at home or in playgroup; with familiar or less familiar others; with adults or peers; with peers of the same sex or age group and with different playgroup activities. The thesis draws on post-modern interpretations of knowledge and truths to reflect critically on the different pedagogic discourses concerning the role of talk in learning implied in the Foundation Stage Curriculum and to revisit Vygotskian and neoVygotskian theories of talk and learning in the light of the children’s multimodal sign making in different settings. By interpreting the children’s gaze, facial gestures and body movements as part of both communicative and meaning-making processes, the study pieces together unique and composite understandings of how the children conform to and resist the communicative practices of the ‘speech community’ (Hymes 1996) within the playgroup studied. These findings in turn give new insights into the genesis of pupil identity and issues of power, control and agency. Furthermore, the study discusses the development of systems for handling and representing complex video data alongside more traditional data collection methods, including audio recordings, field and diary notes and interviews. The thesis concludes by discussing how the study findings contribute to growing understandings of the multimodal processes of young children’s making and expressing of meaning and consequent implications for early years policy and practice.

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