Notions of a Proper Child in Finnish Day Care
Teacher Education, Unit of Early Childhood Education University of Tampere Tampere, Finland
Considering and respecting for the individuality of the child is one of the guiding principles of Finnish day care services. This principle is exercised, among others, in an individual educational plan that each child in day care is provided with. The plan is drafted in collaboration with the child?s parent(s). The parent-practitioner discussion about the child?s educational plan constitutes an arena where conceptions of child and childhood are constructed and defined. In Finland the individual plan seems also to correspond with the assessment and evaluation of the child. Consequently, the planning produces and implies conceptions of normalcy and deviance in children and childhood.
The paper is based on a qualitative research. It investigates the conceptions of a ?proper? child in Finnish day care. It examines what are the notions of an appropriate girl and a suitable boy in the institutional order of a day care center. Thus, the paper discusses the discursive space created for an ordinary child and the gendering of this space. The data consist of 33 audio-taped parent-practitioner meetings in three Finnish day care centers. The data have been transcribed verbatim and it is analysed from the perspectives of social constructionism and discourse analysis. The results reveal, among others, how the notion of a proper child is negotiated by considering the child?s relationship to the practitioners. They show also that play is used as a means in defining the proper and improper conduct of a child and that it is regarded in terms of gender.