• Emma Christine Ellesen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
My aim is to investigate pedagogical staffs’ understandings and constructions of newly arrived ethnic minority children and families, as well as the implications these construc-tions have for the social work they do with parental cooperation, assessment of child well-being and development and early interventions in Danish kindergartens. The group of newly arrived ethnic minorities is exposed to greater risks and disadvantage, and sev-eral past studies find that ethnic minority children may be assessed differently, over-looked, or disregarded in Danish ECEC (Early Childhood Education and Care), and that parental cooperation can be challenging due to cross-cultural interaction and language barriers. From a perspective of inequality, this challenges equal capabilities for ethnic minority children to attain well-being and development and thus life chances early in life. This qualitative interview study contributes with knowledge about which social mecha-nisms may underlie this from a practitioner's perspective. With interview data from two municipal consultants in the municipal administration, two educational managers and three pedagogues from two different kindergartens, I have obtained insights of which so-cial constructions pedagogues make of newly arrived ethnic minority families, and stories about forms of interaction between pedagogues and the families in day care.
Day care can be considered as a social arena in which tension between political control and care work prevails. The encounter between ethnic minority parents and pedagogues is characterized by power structures, racialized categorization processes and language barriers, which define the form of interaction between the parties involved. The form of cooperation with the parents may be characterized by clientification and one-way com-munication, which may lead to passivity and acceptance on the part of the parents. This requires pedagogical practice to establish involvement, inclusion, trust, and relational work with parents, which requires new approaches in practice. Parental cooperation is important to develop, as it affects the pedagogues' possibilities for assessing children’s well-being and development and detecting risk factors leading to disadvantage and vul-nerability. Lack of mutual understanding and feelings of sensitivity, prevent the peda-gogues to inquire the families about migration history or other potential vulnerabilities, and the possibilities of assessing familial risk factors deteriorates. Likewise, it is experi-enced as difficult to achieve effects with early interventions for ethnic minority children if the parents do not cooperate in stimulating the child in the learning environment at home, and it can be discussed whether the pedagogues succeed in making the parents co-creators of a concern for their child. In practice, the educators also tend to explain ethnic minority children's social problems, well-being, and development disadvantages, based on language deficiency, and it manifests in the term “bilingualism” which they use to de-scribe the children linguistically. The interpretation of language deficiency as the cause of social problems is important in order to build up bilingual children's opportunities for development, since language presupposes opportunities for relational interaction with other children and adults, and thus social development. But by attributing language and culture as the cause, you may also overlook other risk factors, which might be assessed for ethnic Danish children with similar behavior. The pedagogical practice with ethnic minority children and families requires extra skills and time. Competences in language interventions and intercultural competence can be obtained from the municipal consul-tancy unit in Aalborg Kommune, but a future perspective could be to investigate which resources Danish day care require to work with ethnic minorities with sufficient quality.
Publication date31 May 2023
Number of pages79
ID: 532417830