Exploring enabling literacy environments: Young children’s spatial and material encounters in early years classrooms

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Daniels, Karen (2016)

This article upholds that young children are cultural agents (Corsaro,2005) who exact agency through their meaning making activity. This expression takes place as they draw upon their developing communicative and cultural practices and utilise available space, artefacts and materials. \ud By observing the ways in which the highly organized space of an early years classroom is taken-up by children aged 4 and 5, we can explore the ways in which young children’s desire to express cultural agency drives them to draw upon space and materials in order to make meaning and examine the ways in which space and resources mediate such experiences. This article draws on use of three methods of observation to provide a close examination: the researcher’s narrative account of events, a pictorial representation of provision areas, and close multimodal analysis of children’s activity. In this way, current emerging and expansive notions of literacy are applied in order to provide the practitioner with tools to examine literacy development in open-ended ways. \ud These observations, it is suggested, can provoke pressing discussion that support understandings of early literacy as a collaborative and collective act that is intricately connected to children’s cultural experiences, their lives and identities and importantly, is always mediated by the early years classroom spaces. By giving recognition to these things we are in a better position of expanding current dominant notions of literacy development and questioning taken-for-granted early years practices around literacy pedagogy.\ud Keywords : early literacy development, enabling environments, young children, literacy practices, play
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