Professionals as key holders: Children with communication difficulties and their right to participate in everyday life activities and play in Norwegian kindergarten
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Social Work and Health Science Queen Maud's College Trondheim, Norway
Main focus in the study is on children with so-called social disabilities (aged 3-6) in ordinary day-care centres in Norway and their possibilities to participate, be heard and make decisions within everyday life and play. The aim of this ethnographic study is to understand what kind of power mechanisms occur when children with social disabilities interact with adults and mainstream children in Norwegian day-care centres, emphasizing on participation, children?s own voices and decision making. The study is based upon the new model of children and childhood and the relational model of disability and is anchored in CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) and CRPD (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities). CRC increased focus on children?s participation and it is being referred to as the starting point of children?s participation into Norwegian legal framework, and led way to The Kindergarten Act (2005) and National Framework Plan (2006). The process of implementing CRPD in Norwegian law is an ongoing process and a result of a prevailing discourse on disability. Focus group interviews with staff members, child interviews as well as field notes give empirical data for the analyses. The staff?s interpretation of the term participation is often reduced to represent children?s rights to make practical decisions here-and-now. This study shows that day-care staff has power to define how, when and in which way the children with social disability are able to participate, influence and make own decisions in play activities. By own personal involvement and interaction in play with social disabled children the staff hold the key to participation and social access to mainstream children?s activities. They can also close the door to interaction and participation by interruptions, focus shifts or ?training?. Observed practice and fragments from interviews will be discussed in light of Bourdiau?s terminology and perspectives.