Original Research

Through the eyes of parents: Culture of young children in diverse early learning spaces

Aletta J. van As, Lorayne A. Excell, Noluthando Magadala, Neliswa Gqoli
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 16, No 1 | a763 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v16i1.763 | © 2020 Aletta J. van As, Lorayne A. Excell, Noluthando Magadala, Neliswa Gqoli | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 September 2019 | Published: 17 December 2020

About the author(s)

Aletta J. van As, Department of Foundation Studies: Music Education, Wits School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Lorayne A. Excell, Department of Foundation Studies: Early Childhood Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Noluthando Magadala, Department of Adult, Foundation Phase and Educational Foundations Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa
Neliswa Gqoli, Department of Adult, Foundation Phase and Educational Foundations Education, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa


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Abstract

There is a growing emphasis for early education to be both contextually appropriate and culturally responsive. In post-apartheid South Africa, early childhood care and education (ECCE) centres have become ‘melting pots’ of different cultures, reinforcing the call to become culturally relevant. Affirming each family’s cultural norms and values is pivotal in shaping the child’s identity – especially in a multicultural society. However, there exists an absence of research investigating how parents of young children view their families’ cultural norms and values. This phenomenologically qualitative study investigated parents’ understandings of culture and their cultural aspirations for their young children attending culturally diverse ECCE centres. One-on-one interviews were conducted to explore parents’ cultural narratives of how they view the cultural identities of their young children. Participants comprised 19 parents who were purposefully selected from five South African provinces. Findings revealed that parents were initially hesitant to articulate what culture in a democratic South Africa would look like. However, when they reflected on culture as enacted in the lives of their families they responded with conviction, revealing a range of views about the topic. They described how they experienced their culture through artefacts, language, family, religion and place. Parents recognised the valuable opportunities that the language-diverse ECCE spaces offered for mixing languages and developing bilingualism and multilingualism. The parents’ intuitive understandings of their children’s culture confirm that there are meaningful levels of cultural knowledge to be found at the grassroots level.

Keywords

culture; culturally responsive pedagogy; early childhood care and education; early childhood development; young children.

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