Early Childhood Educators' Perceptions of Children's Peer Relationships



In the latest BECERA 2021 presenter post, Janbee Shaik Mopidevi tells us about her cross-cultural study that explored early childhood educators' perceptions of children's peer relationships and will draw on similarities and differences of EYFS Curriculum to an alternate transformative curriculum practiced at a local independent school in India. 


If there is one thing that the Corona virus pandemic has made us realise individually and collectively during the prolonged period of alienation and forced reflection through extended lockdowns, it is how inter-connected and inter-dependent the world is and how much we are all reliant on each other for our own survival, health, happiness and personal and societal wellbeing. The grave and unprecedented nature of the pandemic has also exposed the consequences of lockdowns and home schooling away from children’s peer groups and school settings resulting in the social, emotional and mental health issues for both adults and children alike. One year into the pandemic, the consequences are already unprecedented with several research studies reiterating how children, faced with massive and abrupt changes in their lives including school closures, home confinement, social distancing rules placing them away from peers and friend groups, have been facing severe emotional and psychological trauma and mental health issues, and not just the loss of learning.


It is in this context of digital learning and home confinement due to Covid, my earlier research study that explored the role of educators’ roles in fostering children’s peer relationships has assumed added significance. The study was necessitated and conducted in the England’s neo-liberal policy context of accountability and outcome, driven top-down curricula with instrumental focus on learning goals and school readiness with growing concerns for its limitations on children’s social and emotional wellbeing and happiness. Given that research has already established how important children’s peer relationships are for their general wellbeing; I have explored whether or not the early childhood educators consider children’s relationships as important and if so, for what reasons and in what contexts. As Rogoff (2003) says, what educators say or perceive will have consequences for what they do in their practice, following from Vygotsky’s theory, that the perceptions of individuals are not separate from the kinds of activities in which they engage in and the kinds of institutions of which they are part of. It is in contrast to the theories of development that focus on the individual and the social and cultural context as separate entities (as adding or multiplying one or the other), the Socio-Cultural-Historical Approach assumes that individual development must be understood in, and can not be separated from its social and cultural and historical contexts.


This cross-cultural focus and a socio-cultural theoretical analysis of early childhood educators’ roles in fostering peer relationships is going to be the focus of my presentation at BECERA. I will explore how early childhood educators perceive peer relationships, how this applies to their practice in their settings and in what contexts I will draw on similarities and differences of EYFS Curriculum to an alternate transformative curriculum practiced at a local independent school in India, based on the philosophy of Jiddu Krishnamurthy who has contested the narrow instrumental focus of education in favour of a relational and transformative one. Jiddu Krishnamurthy’s philosophy and practice of education is revolutionary in nature and is emancipatory in spirit, contrary to the wide spread exam driven conformist education system in India, with an unfortunate blend of neo-colonial legacies and neo-liberal ideologies which are still driving educational policies and practices in India today - with early childhood care and education being no exception.


Dr Janbee Shaik Mopidevi is a lecturer, researcher and consultant in the areas of Childhood Studies, Education and International Development. She has a PhD in Education Studies and Double Masters in International Development and Politics and Public Policy. Her specific research focus is on the issues of wellbeing, equity, inclusion, relational, democratic and sustainable aspects of educational policy and practice with an international and comparative focus. Having lived in, studied and worked in the three countries of India, Netherlands and England and having personally experienced public, private and alternative educational systems, her striving is for a relational and transformative purpose, policy and practice of education.


Janbee will present her research at BECERA 2021 Symposium 2, on Tuesday 16th Feb, 3.30 - 5.00pm.




Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: Macmillan.


Krishnamurthy, J. (1953 c) Education and significance of life, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.


Rogoff, B. (2003) The Cultural Nature of Human Development, New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.



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