Learning history in early childhood: Teaching methods and children’s understanding
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionContemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 2017, 18 (1), 8-22. 10.1177/1463949117692262
This article discusses the teaching of history in early childhood education and care centres and children’s understanding of history. Based on interviews with eight Norwegian early childhood education and care teachers and on interpretative phenomenological analysis, the article shows how the early childhood education and care centres teach history, how children respond to the teaching, and what kind of understanding of history and historical time children express. The findings are discussed in light of theories of history didactics. The teachers had positive experiences with the implementation of history projects and developed a variety of methods and teaching approaches. They also expressed a highly positive assessment of children’s ability to acquire knowledge of history. In particular, it appears that physical and bodily experiences, along with teachers’ storytelling, stimulated the children’s interest and understanding of history. Some of the older children – the five- to six-year-olds – expressed an emerging historical consciousness. This indicates that although historical understanding in early childhood might be limited, the teaching of history in early childhood education and care can lay the foundation for historical consciousness and its later development at school.