Personal, interpersonal and organisational factors that enable or constrain the development of attachment-type relationships between infants, toddlers and their teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood settings : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Research has demonstrated that close and affectionate relationships between infants/toddlers and teachers within early childhood settings are of vital significance. It is within these relationships that infants and toddlers cognitive, emotional and physical health is promoted and protected (Dalli, White, Rockel, & Duhn, 2011; Rolfe, 2004; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). It is also in these close foundational attachment-type relationships that children develop adaptive emotional regulation and individual self-concept. These relational experiences form the blueprint for the manner in which children and adults approach and negotiate current and future relationships (Treboux, Crowell, & Waters, 2004). The goal of this mixed-method design study was to identify the structural and process quality factors that predict high quality relationship development opportunities between teachers, infants and toddlers. Three case studies were undertaken in the first phase of data generation. The sample for the research comprised groups of teachers, infants/toddlers and their families/whānau. Case study data identified organisational factors that influence the opportunities for quality relationships to develop in Early Childhood Services (ECS); these organisational factors were then further validated in phase two through a national survey of 213 centres that were identified as catering for infants and toddlers. Results showed there is a need for centres to develop relationship-based approaches, which could include primary/key teacher programmes within an organisational climate that is flexible, safe and open to critique and change. This relationship development requires specific attention in each of the three planes of activity: personal, interpersonal and institutional (Rogoff, 1998). The three planes pay attention to: participation of an individual within an activity and how this participation transforms during the course of the activity (personal focus of analysis), the individual’s collaboration and relationships with others (interpersonal focus of analysis), and on cultural/institutional/historical factors (community or cultural or contextual focus of analysis). It is in the structures such as rosters, or duty lists, and staff rotations where relationship opportunities get missed or unfulfilled. The findings suggest that the reduction of teacher rotation in the infant and toddler areas should be considered to promote consistency and continuity for the infants and toddlers and their families/whānau. The need for increasing infant and toddler specific preparation within initial teacher education and on-going professional learning programmes were identified as key factors in improving the development of quality teaching practice. Implications from this study include the need for teachers to recognise the importance of developing attachment-type relationships with the infants and toddlers with whom they work, and to engage in on-going professional learning focused on infant and toddler pedagogy. Finally, the findings recommend that policy makers should develop regulations to ensure ratios for infants and toddlers be maintained at one adult to three children (1:3) for under two-year-olds. There is a call to reinstate the 100% fully qualified teacher requirements (particularly for infants and toddlers); and a need to provide financial and professional support to ensure all infant and toddler teachers can be exposed to a variety of on-going professional learning opportunities. The framework of planes of activity (Rogoff, 1998) has been utilised to make coherent sense of so many variables, each of which contributes to quality relationships between the teachers and the infants, toddlers.
Day care centers, New Zealand, Case studies, Employees, Early childhood teachers, Attachment behavior in children, Attachment behavior in infants, Infants, Development