International Journal of Early Childhood

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 9–29 | Cite as

Opening Spaces for Dialogue and Re-Envisioning Children’s Bathroom in a Preschool: Practitioner Research with Children on a Sensitive and Neglected Area of Concern

Original Article

Abstract

Early years environments play a significant role in children’s sense of belonging, wellbeing, and learning. Yet, bathroom spaces have received minimal considerations as part of early years environments. Bathroom practices in early childhood settings are usually examined from medical and developmental perspectives, such as pathologies related to urinating and defecating, best practices of toilet training, or the acquisition of appropriate toilet and hygiene habits. This article explores participants’ accounts of the bathroom in one preschool setting in New South Wales (NSW) Australia. These accounts are articulated as critiques about the existing bathroom or as visions about an alternative bathroom space. The practitioner research with children project opened up spaces for dialogue and the perspectives offered by participants exceeded the literature and brought new ways to understand the bathroom as a social and cultural space and a space that is a part of a quality environment for children. Therefore, we not only argue that bathrooms deserve greater attention in early years settings, but also offer a brief agenda for research to potentially improve understandings and practices related to the bathroom.

Keywords

Children’s bathroom environment Practitioner research Researching with children Children’s wellbeing Early childhood curriculum and pedagogy 

Résumé

L’environnement dans lequel l’enfant passe ses premières années joue un rôle important dans la formation de son sentiment de bien‐être et d’appartenance ainsi que son apprentissage. Pourtant, les sanitaires dans les environnements qui accueillent de jeunes enfants font l’objet de très peu d’études. En effet, les pratiques sanitaires dans ces lieux font le plus souvent l’objet de recherches médicales comme celles effectuées sur des pathologies liées à la miction et la défécation ou les bonnes pratiques en matière d’apprentissage de la propreté et de l’hygiène. Dans le présent article nous examinons les expériences des pratiques sanitaires relatées par des participants dans une école maternelle en Nouvelle‐Galles du Sud en Australie. Ces expériences présentent à la fois une critique des sanitaires existantes et des visions alternatives de l’espace de toilette. Le projet de recherche pratique avec les enfants a permis d’ouvrir le dialogue. Les perspectives offertes par les participants sont allées plus loin que les écrits dans ce domaine et ont amené de nouvelles façons d’envisager les sanitaires comme espace social et culturel faisant partie intégrante d’un environnement de qualité pour les enfants. Nous soutenons donc que la question des sanitaires mérite beaucoup plus d’attention dans les lieux d’accueil des jeunes enfants et nous esquissons un nouveau paradigme de recherche pour élargir les connaissances et les pratiques liées aux sanitaires.

Resumen

El entorno de los primeros años de vida juega un papel significativo en la creación del sentido de la pertenencia, bienestar y aprendizaje de los niños. Sin embargo, al cuarto de baño se le ha prestado muy poca atención en el analisis del entorno infantil. El uso del baño en la niñez son examinados generalmente desde el punto de vista médico y de desarrollo, tomando como ejemplo las patologías relacionadas con la orina y la evacuación, los métodos más eficaces para adquirir hábitos apropiados de ir al baño e higiene. Este artículo examina las descripciones o relatos de baño de los participantes (educadores) perteneciente a un jardín infantil en Nueva Gales del Sur (Australia). Estas descripciones son representadas como criticas a las concepciones actuales sobre el baño o los conceptos sobre el cuarto de baño como un espacio alternativo. La investigación del educador con lo niños abrió nuevos espacios para el diálogo. Por su parte, los datos ofrecidos por los participantes excedieron la literatura existente y ofreció nuevas perspectivas para entender (comprender) el cuarto de baño como un espacio social y cultural, que forma parte de la calidad del entorno infantil. Por lo tanto no sólo sostenemos que los baños merecen una mayor atención en los primeros años del infante, sino que también ofrecen un nuevo campo de investigación para mejorar potencialmente la comprensión de y hábitos relacionados con el cuarto de baño.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationThe University of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.Kurri Kurri & District Pre-school KindergartenKurri KurriAustralia

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