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Children's self-regulation in the context of participatory pedagogy in early childhood education

Research has shown that self-regulation can support child development in the areas of children's attentional flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control for excluding impulsive responses. How this is actually related in everyday pedagogical early childhood education (ECE) activities has rarely been studied in detail. In this article self-regulation in a Finnish ECE context was analyzed. The data were collected with a survey questionnaire from 706 teaching teams that involved 2,222 individual teachers located in the capital area of Helsinki, Finland. Self-regulation was analyzed through teachers' perceptions within the context of participatory learning in ECE. The main categories of analysis answered research questions about self-regulation experiences offered to children, teacher support for children's engagement in self-regulation experiences, and children's participation in self-regulation experiences. The findings suggested that the teachers provided children with self-regulation experiences through play activities with their peers and teachers. These activities, which concerned discussing, negotiating, and making suggestions in interaction with others, were seen as an essential part of the children's self-regulation. The results showed that teachers supported children's self-regulation through participation by ensuring children's independent initiatives and listening to their voices and opinions; they also created opportunities for children to participate in decision making. Practice or Policy: Our results imply that using the framework of participation is promising when studying children's self-regulation in a pedagogical context where children need both social and cognitive support for their self-regulatory activities. (author abstract)
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