Equality and Inclusion
Throughout early childhood, children start to develop a "self-concept," the attributes, abilities, attitudes and values that they believe define them, giving them an 'identity'. There are multiple and diverse childhoods and there are multiple perspectives of childhood. (Woodhead, M. 2008). Identity is what makes a person unique to society. There are many factors which shape identity, some of these being: class, race, sex, backgrounds and religion. According to (Bronfenbrenner 1972) children start to discover both their ability and their identity though their own observations and playing and working alongside their peers.
Children have a legal right to identity 'The Convention requires that children, including the very youngest children, be respected as persons in their own right. Young children should be recognised as active members of families, communities and societies, with their own concerns, interests and points of view.' UNCRC (2005, Paragraph 5) There are norms, values and culture backgrounds which can effect a child's identity. As practitioners we must make sure a child's identity in terms of their self-image and self-esteem is made up of positive experiences and attitudes within early year's settings. Having things such as multi-cultural, age and stage, etc, activities and resources may help a child feel positive in their own identity. A child's name is also very important when thinking about identity, their name is something in which they relate and respond to. Getting a child's name correct, is crucial to them, it shows an understanding and creates that first initial relationship between a practitioner and child.
Poverty and social class also has an effect on identity. Absolute and relative are the two types of poverty in which some unfortunate children and families are living in. Relative poverty being that a child's basic needs are met however, their family cannot afford to pay for luxuries and days out to perhaps say, the zoo. Absolute poverty being that a child's needs are not met, they do not have food, water, shelter which can have a huge impact to the child's life. The gap between rich and poor keeps on growing, with wealthy individuals on one side who live a care free and over the top life style that most could only dream of and then there are people who fight from day to day to pay bills, feed their families or just simply keep warm. (The Child Poverty Act 2010) aims to have targets met by 2020/2021, this requires that the UK Government to produce a child poverty strategy, having a separate one for Scotland.
There are economic and social aspects relating to poverty. The economic factors being the materials needs, the daily living necessities needed i.e food, water. The social aspects being that there is a lack to access education, information, health care etc. When thinking about both these aspects and the factors which come with them, if a child and families basic needs being aren't being met, then they are going to fall ill and therefore have to get medical treatment which can then cause the child to be off school, missing out on their education. Children and families living in poverty can cause then to have a statues within society, causing a social divide and identities to be made. Every child, family and individual are all different, each and every one of their circumstances are different, regardless how big or small the issue is, if they are struggling to meet a basic standard of living with or without shelter they are in poverty. It is a vicious circle which needs to be broken and stopped. (Scottish Human Rights Commission 2015)
Social class is a division within society which is caused by a child's social status. Children and families are grouped into social categories i.e upper, middle and lower class.
Gender stereotyping is something which occurs within society, especially within early years of a child's life. Gender stereotyping affects both girls and boys in life. Boys are usually seen as being aggressive and have a lot of self-confidence whereas girls are usually seen as sensitive. There are numerous fixed job titles which people perceive girls and boys to have in life. Some of the jobs which are seen to be stereotypically for girls are childcare and nursing and for boys it's typically engineering, mechanic etc. These are all jobs which are stereotyped and put into categories for men and woman. (Maynard and Powell, 2013)
The dangerous of stereotyping are failure to recognize and understand that all children are different and have each individual child has different beliefs and cultural backgrounds. Stereotyping also pigeonholes children and restricts the construction of identity and can place limits on the experiences of children, not giving them equal opportunities in life opportunities. (Bedford, 2014)
When thinking about gender roles and social cognitive development there are psychologists who emphasis the thinking process that children go through. According to Lawrence Kohlberg children go through stages, when the child goes through each stage they begin to understand gender and it becomes more complex to them. He also states that when a child reaches at 7 years they start to understand that gender is independent. (Kohlberg, 2009)
Bedford, E. (2014) Just Let Them Be: The Dangers of Stereotyping Children [Online] Available: https://funifi.com/blog/just-let-them-be-the-dangers-of-stereotyping-children/ [Accessed 28 October 2015]
Child Poverty Act (2010) [Online] Available: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/9/contents/ [Accessed 16 October 2015]
Kohl,L. (2009) Introduction. Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.
Maynard,T. and Powell,S. (eds.) (2013) An introduction to early childhood studies. 3rd edition. London: SAGE Publications.
Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHC) (2015) Poverty [Online] Available: http://www.scottishhumanrights.com/ourwork/poverty [Accessed 28th October 2015]
Woodhead, M. and Oates, J. (2008) Early Childhood in Focus 3; Developing Positive Identities. The Open University.
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2005). UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
...(download the rest of the essay above)