Evaluating the perceptions and understandings of strengths-based practices of teachers within early childhood (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineHealth Sciences
Degree NameMaster of Science
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
Emerging from the domain of positive psychology, strengths-based practices aim to promote positive emotions, and resilience through enhancing and drawing on the strengths of young children (Seligman et al., 2009). This approach has led to a shift of thinking in the field of education as school environments are in a prime position to effect such practices because of their role in developing and promoting well-being in children (Seligman et al., 2009). However, whilst literature on the implementation of strengths-based approaches within school and early educational contexts is relatively well researched, little research has been dedicated to examining the perceptions and understandings of early childhood teachers related to a strengths-based approach. The current research involved six early childhood teachers from across three different early childhood centres in Christchurch New Zealand. All teachers completed an online demographic survey, and undertook a semi-structured interview with the researcher. The interview consisted of 16 open-ended questions and covered 5 topics that included; teaching philosophies, children’s interests, feelings, strengths, and learning. The interview sought to examine teacher knowledge of working with children in a strengths-based way. Analysis identified that strengths-based practices are underpinned by relationships in early childhood, as they were seen as fundamental in order for teachers to recognize strengths in children. Within the current study, all teachers had knowledge of strengths-based practices within early childhood, however, analysis identified that there were two distinct differences in teachers’ knowledge; content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Furthermore, proximal and distal factors, such as teaching experience, teaching philosophies and the roles and responsibilities of teachers were identified that influenced the capacity in which teachers could establish and maintain relationships within early childhood education.