Pen Portrait: Lizzie Rogers
Returning to England in 2014, after completing the 1st year of a BA (Hons) Degree in Early Childhood Studies in Dubai, I decided to enrol at Doncaster University Centre to complete the degree and be closer to friends and family. Throughout the degree I have developed a love and passion for theories and child psychology a topic which has since consumed me, leading to the chosen research for my dissertation, published in the 2016, Winter Edition of the online Early Years Magazine, UCD. I have started a new career as a CAF lead professional working with children and supporting families in the community. However, my passions lie within researching into the complex lives of children and so I am looking to undertake a PhD in Educational Psychology.
Children receive many developmental benefits from forming an attachment with their primary caregiver, including their social and emotional skills (Golding, et al., 2013). However, children surrounded by chaos and stress sometimes struggle to form these attachments (Gerhardt, 2004). Military children can be included in this group of children, as they are surrounded by uncertainty and often experience frequent parental absences (Malekpour, 2007). These parental absences can lead to social and emotional difficulties within the children such as regression, anger, and depression, often resulting in children as young as 5 years old having mental health problems (Baberiene & Hornback, 2014). Therefore, to counter these negative effects, military camp childcare provisions within the USA are enshrined in laws and standards have been established in order to provide service children with the best and most affordable childcare, so that young children may form secure attachments with practitioners when their parents are away to help counter the negative effects of parental absences (Trautmann, et al., 2015). Unfortunately, there is very little research to indicate whether this is true or similar of the military camp nurseries in the United Kingdom. The aim of this study was to use a case study methodology to investigate whether the UK early years curriculum is supporting the social and emotional development of service children. Two different methods of data collection was used to investigate this, using practitioners and parents of a nursery within a military camp. 5 practitioners were interviewed, including one military wife that also worked at the nursery to discuss the way in which they support military children and whether more can be done to support them in the future. Families within the nursery were given questionnaires, to give an insight into how military families explain absences to their children, and to see if they believed there was enough support available for military families. Both the quantitative and qualitative data was analysed, and using grounded theory analysis the data was coded (Denscombe, 2014). The results indicate that all staff members felt that more training and awareness should be given for practitioners working with service families. Essentially, all the staff reported that there should be more support for military families in the terms of free childcare provisions, as service families are not entitled to government schemes, such as the Two Year Offer. The results of this study point to a need for a wider understanding of service children’s needs and the importance that a stable and secure attachment has upon a child, by providing service children with free childcare places, more children will have the attachment that is vital for their social and emotional skills. The limitations and weakness of the research project was noted to be that there was a low response rate to the questionnaires; limited to 12 families, with a larger number of responses the researcher would have collected more reliable data. However, the strengths of the project were, that the responses that the researcher gained were noted to have a wealth of information and knowledge relevant to the project.