Category Archives: Re-thinking Childhood

Research Snapshot: Communicative musicality – sounds rhythms and pulses in music and language

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Dr Carolyn Blackburn, Research Fellow in Early Childhood Studies, and Ian Axtell, Subject Leader for Music Education, Centre for Research in Education.

Findings

Participants in this study appeared to recognise the value and importance of children’s spontaneous musical activities and to encourage it describing the benefit for children’s holistic development and the role of music in attachment and bonding. However, they also appear to have identified benefits for children in attending organised, structured musical activities both within the home, but more substantially outside the home.

Recommendations
  • It is recommended that parents and carers are offered guidance and advice about the importance of acknowledging and valuing young children’s spontaneous musical activities in the home. It is a matter of concern that parents might lack confidence to instigate and encourage young children’s musical activities in the home;
  • It is recommended that an online database of trialled and validated musical resources be made available for parents and carers to use in the home;
  • It is recommended that this study is extended to include particular groups of children and families such as minority ethnic groups and children with disabilities;
  • It is recommended that a study to explore young children’s musical activities in early years settings be conducted to explore the understanding and practices of early childhood practitioners given the importance of young children’s spontaneous musical activities in their overall and holistic development as noted from the literature review in this report.

 

Download the full report here: communicative-musicality-report-130987955021412745

Research Snapshot: Eddie Hulbert

Eddie’s research is on Family Learning Birmingham, an initiative which aims to provide guidance for parents or carers who are either unemployed, on benefits or have very few qualifications by providing a way for families to learn together.

Research Snapshot: Shannon Ludgate

PhD student Shannon Ludgate of the School of Education talks about her research on children’s use of touchscreen technology. Shannon describes her research and what she hopes to achieve during the course of her PhD.

Report from International Society on Early Intervention: Children’s Rights and Early Intervention, Aula Magnum Auditorium, Stockholm 8-10 June 2016

Written by Dr Carolyn Blackburn, Research Fellow in Early Childhood Studies, HELS carolyn@blackbu5

The International Society on Early Intervention holds a major conference very three to four years. This years’ conference focused on the rights of all children to develop to their full potential and to participate without barriers in all aspects of society Encouraging and supporting the inclusion of children with developmental delays and disabilities in natural environments, including family settings, child care, and preschool programs, is at the core of maximizing children’s rights. Indeed, the concept of full participation is consistent with two United Nations treaties that address these rights: Convention on the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The conference was dedicated to Ulf Janson who dedicated, devoted much of his professional life to promoting the rights of young children with disabilities, understanding the nature of social inclusion, and advocating for the full inclusion of all children and their families and Franz Peterander, Ph.D. Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians University reminded us of his commitment to ECI.

1A tribute to Professor Ulf Janson from Franz Peterander

In this conference, early intervention was proposed as a basic right of all vulnerable children, and was explored from many perspectives. Issues related to access, equity, quality, and accountability were considered to be paramount. Strengthening families, training professional personnel, promoting social-emotional development, conducting reliable, valid, and culturally appropriate assessments, exploring issues related to institutional care and deinstitutionalization, examining the impact, prevention, and treatment of trauma, abuse, and neglect, testing and evaluating new strategies and techniques to promote a child’s development to the fullest, and developing approaches to enhance social inclusion were among the topics included. The development and evaluation of policies in individual countries or regions within countries to ensure that early intervention is among the rights of young children provided an important context.

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Children and young people from Adolf Fredick’s Music School opened the conference with an assertion that ‘Children Rule the World’

The conference opened with an inspirational and moving performance from Adolf Fredrik’s Music School Youth Chorus. Following this, there were opening addresses from Anders Gustavsson, Ph.D. Professor, Stockholm University, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, Ph.D, President, Stockholm University and Mike Guralnick. During his address Mike announced Barry Carpenter’s recent award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition to his service to the field of Special Education Needs. Barry is an Independent Education Consultant from the UK and Carolyn has worked with Barry on research projects and publications.

The conference proceeded with plenary and parallel sessions focussed on a wide range of topics that were provided by and for 600 delegates from 55 countries. In addition delegates were invited to a wine and canapés at the Stockholm Town Hall where Nobel Peace Prizes are awarded.

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Mike Guralnick described the conference as a landmark event in early intervention

Mike Guralnick, Chair of ISEI, described the conference as a landmark event in Early Intervention, stressing that there is currently a humanitarian crisis for vulnerable children. He explained that we need a systems based approach to services which must be coordinated within a team and work with parents. There needs to be universal agreement that every child has a right to early intervention.

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Professor Ăkesson talked about growing up in Sweden

Professor Eva Björck Åkesson talked about an ecological transactional model and a biopsychosocial perspective which was focused on the preschool as an environment for participation, interaction, and development in the context of early intervention in Sweden. She explained that engagement and togetherness needs to be further researched and we need to be solution oriented, as there are many challenges to overcome in the field of early intervention.

Dr. Emily Baron Vargas talked about Building Sustainable National Systems for Early Childhood Intervention from her work at the RISE Institute that assists nations to develop strategic plans, systems, and programs for early childhood intervention (ECI) and hosts the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Task Force of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities.

Dr. Pia Rebello Britto (Global Chief and Senior Advisor, Early Childhood Development, UNICEF, New York) urged us to take Early Childhood Interventions into the sustainable development era. She argued that all children need good nutrition, stimulation and safety and protection in order to thrive. However, significant numbers of children around the world do not experience these basic human rights, which leads to unmet human potential. It is the role of the early childhood intervention community to change this. She challenged us to mobilise resources and raise the profile of this with policy makers.

6Dr. Pia Britto argued that all children need good nutrition, stimulation and safety and protection in order to thrive

There were a series of Master Lectures provided by international speakers on a wide range of EI subjects. A number of members of Eurlyaid attended and presented at the conference.

I presented two parallel sessions on a) Young children’s use of private speech in early years settings from my PhD findings and b) Applying relational pedagogy and professional love to early childhood intervention services

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Carolyn Blackburn presenting findings from her Churchill Fellowship

The full programme for the conference can be found here https://depts.washington.edu/isei/ISEI_Program.pdf. The next conference will be held in Sydney in 2019.

Research Snapshot: Early care and education experiences of young children born prematurely

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Dr Carolyn Blackburn, Research Fellow, Early Childhood Studies & Dr Merryl Harvey, Reader in Nursing

Aim of research

This study aims to explore the early care and education experiences of children born prematurely through reports from parents. Research questions include:

  1. What are the early social experiences of young children born prematurely (as reported by parents)?
  2. What are parents’ memories of their children’s developmental milestones?
  3. Where children are attending early years settings, what are parents experiences of this, were there any difficulties/problems in finding suitable childcare provision?
  4. What advice/support do early years workers need to support children born prematurely and their families?

Read more here: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/stories/born-early

Rethinking Childhood Cluster: Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen

Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen is the Director of the Champion Centre and Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Canterbury. She is engaged in active research into the outcomes of parent-partnership interventions at the Centre. She has also been a member of a research team at the University of Canterbury exploring the long-term outcomes of prematurity, with a particular focus on communication and language development. She has held academic positions in universities in the UK, USA, France and New Zealand and has published widely on language development in both pure and applied journals and books. Susan joined us in a joint venture between the Rethinking Childhood Cluster and the Family Health Cluster on the 6th June to talk about:

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Bio-psycho-social consequences of premature birth: family and professional partnerships in early intervention

The short, medium and long-term impacts of premature birth on the infant, the mother, the family and their educational and social communities are the active subjects of research in a number of academic fields. Such research is revealing trends and likelihoods of developmental, educational, mental health and social consequences of prematurity that can, and must, be addressed in early intervention. Particularly difficult, however, is predicting which children will have which, or any, lasting consequences of their prematurity. This presents a challenge for health, education and social welfare practitioners to translate the research evidence into the best support for each child, the families that raise them, and the teachers that educate them. Susan’s talk reviewed the bio-psycho-social consequences of premature birth and then describde the multi-disciplinary support provided to children born prematurely, their families and their teachers at The Champion Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand. It focused on the challenges encountered in assessment, monitoring, and intervention; and the importance of developing families as ‘advocates for life’ for their children.

Approximately 50 – 60 delegates attended from across the country and from diverse disciplines including collaborative partners from BLISS charity and Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Positive feedback from delegates included comments such as:

“Thank you for organising this excellent event.  So much useful information for teaching and for my book. Also useful networking, I do hope that Barbara and I move our research idea forward. Thank you also for the delicious lunch.” (an HE Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood)

“Thank you for inviting us to the talk yesterday it was really fascinating. It was also fantastic to hear about the amazing programme Susan runs in New Zealand, I thought it really complemented some of the things Bliss believes in like having the family at the centre of the babies care.” (A charity Research Manager)

As a practising independent midwife, I found the event very illuminating. I will be using the knowledge gained (and revisited) in my work; especially in the postnatal period.

I focus on ‘growing and birthing healthy babies’. In this timely space, I place a large emphasis on supporting mothers (and their partners) to realise the critical importance of the antenatal period, enjoying good diet, exercise, and managing positive energies etc.

I look forward to the video and sharing this with my team. (a Mimosa Midwife)

What an excellent event, ands such a wonderful presentation I was like many in the audience bowled over and learnt such a lot.. Id be very happy to get involved in any future/potential research with BCU , around this field (health practitioner from Birmingham Children’s Hospital)

 

Dr. Foster-Cohen said of her visit to the UK:

“A true highlight of my trip was my visit to Birmingham City University and the chance to present my research work in prematurity and the model of professional service delivery for premature infants at the Champion Centre.

I was very impressed with the wide range of professional backgrounds in the audience that attended the lecture and extend my thanks to Dr. Carolyn Blackburn, my host, for promoting the importance of the path that premature infants take from the prenatal stage through early childhood. The questions at the lecture and the discussion afterwards over lunch made it clear that there is considerable intelligent interest in the needs of young children at BCU and a genuine contribution that I can make to the courses and training that it offers.

Dr. Blackburn’s visit to the Champion Centre on her Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship last year has opened up significant opportunities for collaborative research between us and I look forward to building on this first exchange of visits in the future.”

 

Meet the Team – Shannon Ludgate

Name: Shannon Ludgateshan

Role at BCU: PhD student and Assistant Lecturer in Early Years

Research Interests:

  • Touchscreen technologies
  • Young children in early years
  • Social learning
  • Activity Theory
  • Teaching and Research relationship

Research you are currently working on: I am currently working on my PhD, which looks at young children’s experiences using touchscreen technologies in early years settings. This study focuses on children aged three and four years old.

Research methodologies you are using: My research has taken a mixed-methods approach to collecting data. By researching in this way, it has enabled me to collect quantitative data through an online survey and observations, alongside qualitative data from interviews and observations of young children’s uses of touchscreen technology.

This was done through a multi-case study approach, which allowed for a comparison within and against other case studies in the study.

Advice for new researchers: Considering I see myself as an organised person, I would suggest that new researchers, particularly those doing PhDs to get on top of organisation. Planning is essential in order to have a structure, and to give you a clearer idea of how your time might pan out. That being said, be flexible too – you do not know what might happen from one month to the next, so be prepared for set-backs.

Be passionate and enthusiastic about your research – let your interests lead you to where you research. Don’t be afraid to do something new!

Mini fact about you: I am the only left-handed, red-headed person in my family. I am a statistical anomaly with blue eyes and red hair.

 

Born early: early care and education experiences of young children born prematurely

Dr. Carolyn Blackburn and Dr. Merryl Harvey (supported by BLISS http://www.bliss.org.uk)

Each year in England, around 10,000 children are born very preterm (at less than 32 weeks gestation) and a further 60,000 are born moderately preterm (at 32-36 weeks gestation). The number of preterm births has increased in the last two decades, and more preterm children are surviving due to improved neonatal care (National Neonatal Audit Programme, 2015). However, the prevalence of cognitive, behavioural and emotional problems in preterm populations has not changed. In particular, children born preterm have been found to experience specific learning problems including difficulties with mathematics, visual-spatial skills, memory and attention.

There is still much we do not know about the nature and spectrum of these learning difficulties, their long term consequences, and how to deal with them. In particular, there is controversy about whether moderately preterm children experience similar but milder learning problems than children born very preterm. Teachers and educational psychologists receive little formal training about preterm birth and are often not aware of appropriate strategies to support preterm children in the classroom. Informing teachers about the special constellation of problems following preterm birth is crucial in preparing them to support the growing number of preterms entering schools in the coming years (Campbell, 2015; Carpenter et al., 2015).

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Studies have explored parents’ experiences of having a child born prematurely. However, these studies have generally focused on the months immediately following the birth and have taken a health and social care perspective (Harvey el al, 2013; Garfield et al, 2014; Gray et al, 2013). Quantitative studies have also examined the development of children who were born prematurely and have identified the learning difficulties that they face during early childhood (Marlow, 2004; Johnson et al, 2010; Costeloe 2012). Parents’ experiences of early years education is an under-researched area.

The benefits of early care and education early intervention (EI) have been well documented in policy and research in terms of improving outcomes for children at risk of or identified with SEN. Whilst not all children born prematurely will be identified with Special Educational Needs, ongoing monitoring of their learning and development (as is evident from Carolyn’s work at the Champion Centre, NZ) has the potential to ameliorate any future delays or difficulties.

This study aims to explore the early care and education experiences of children born prematurely through reports from parents in order to identify best practice in early care and education and provide advice and guidance for policy-makers and early educators. Research questions include:

  1.  What are the early social experiences of young children born prematurely (as reported by parents)?
  1. What are parents’ memories of their children’s developmental milestones?
  1. Where children are attending early years settings, what are parents experiences of this, were there any difficulties/problems in finding suitable childcare provision?
  1. What advice/support do early years workers need to support children born prematurely and their families?

The first phase of the research will be a family survey. More details to follow.

References:

Campbell, D. Premature babies more likely to end up in lower- paid jobs. The Guardian 1st September 2015

Carpenter, B., Egerton, J. Cockbill, B., Brooks, C., Fotheringham, J., Rawson, H. And Thisthtlethwaite, J. Engaging learning with complex learning difficulties and disabilities. London: Routledge

Costeloe KL, Hennessy EM, Haider S, Stacey F, Marlow N, Draper ES. Short term outcomes after extreme preterm birth in England: comparison of two birth cohorts in 1995 and 2006 (the EPICure studies). BMJ, 2012;345:e7976

Garfield CF, Lee Y, Kim HN (2014) Paternal and maternal concerns for their very low-birth-weight infants transitioning from NICU to home. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing; 28 4 305-312

Gray PH, Edwards DM, O’Callaghan MJ, Cuskelly M, Gibbons K. (2013) Parenting stress in mothers of very preterm infants – influence of development, temperament and maternal depression. Early Human Development; 89 9 6250629

Harvey, M.E. Nongena, P. Gonzalez-Cinca, N. Edwards, A.D. and Redshaw, M.E. (2013) Parents’ experiences of information and communication in the neonatal unit about brain imaging and neurological prognosis: a qualitative study, Acta Paediatrica, 102(4): 360-365.

Johnson S, Hollis C, Kochhar P, Hennessy EM, Wolke D, Marlow N. Autism spectrum disorders in extremely preterm children. J Pediatrics2010;156:525-31

Marlow N. Neurocognitive outcome after very preterm birth. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2004;89:F224-8

National Neonatal Audit Programme (2015) Annual Report on 2014 data. http://www.rcpch.ac.uk/improving-child-health/qualityimprovement-and-clinical-audit/national-neonatal-audit-programme-nnap (accessed 11/04/2016).

Winston Churchill Fellowship Medallion

Written by Dr Carolyn Blackburn, Research Fellow in Early Childhood Studies, HELS carolyn@blackbu5

Carolyn Blackburn attended a prestigious Award Ceremony for her Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travelling Fellowship recently. In this blog entry she reflects on the ceremony.

On Wednesday 18th May, I travelled to London with 128 other Fellows to receive my Winston Churchill Fellowship Medallion from Professor Brian Clarke at a prestigious biennial award ceremony.  The event was held at Church House near Westminster.

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Church House has significant Churchillian associations as during the Blitz, Winston Churchill requisitioned Church House as a makeshift Houses of Parliament after the originals had been damaged by bombing. It was also from Church House that he made his famous speech announcing the sinking of the Bismarck on 24th May 1941. It was an ideal venue to hold the event.

The Agenda for the event included a talk from Brian about his own Fellowship following an introduction from the Chair of the Advisory Council, Anne Boyd and a presentation from the Chief Executive Julia Weston.  The Hon Jeremy Soames made the concludinew medallionng remarks before Afternoon Tea was served for Fellows and guests.

The Travelling Fellowships provide opportunities for UK citizens to go abroad on a worthwhile project of their own choosing, with the aim of enriching their lives through their global experiences – and to bring back the benefit to others in their UK profession or community through sharing the results of their new knowledge.

20160518_132921Twenty two Fellows received awards in the Children and Young People category of which I was proud to be one of them.  It was inspiring to hear about Fellows travels across the Globe with projects ranging from child exploitation to mental health interventions to FGM and everything inbetween. My own Fellowship was about Relationship Based Early Intervention Services for Children with Complex Disabilities and I’m delighted to say that since returning to the UK, I’ve been elected as Board Member of Eurlyaid, had an article published in the International Journal of Birth and Parenting Education, presented my findings at EASPD’s conference in Moldova – entitled Growing Together in Early Childhood Intervention, had a paper accepted at BCU Wellbeing conference and been granted funding from BCU to explore Early Care and Education for Young Children Born Prematurely.

Professor Brian Clarke praised all the Fellows for their outstanding achievements, and said that:

“I know from personal experience that the Fellowship represents a wonderful opportunity. I am continually amazed and inspired by the Churchill Fellows dedication and commitment to making a difference in so many areas affecting today’s society.”

You can read more about Carolyn’s journey to New Zealand on her personal blog https://drblackburnblog.wordpress.com/

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