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‘We don’t leave our emotions at the nursery door’: lived experiences of emotional labour in early years professional practice

Morris, L. (2018) ‘We don’t leave our emotions at the nursery door’: lived experiences of emotional labour in early years professional practice. EdD thesis, University of Reading

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Highly romanticised images of childhood produce notions of ideal children serenely cared for as they laugh and play all day. However, these conceptualisations do not accurately reflect the multiple realities of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), and the complexity and demands of working with young children and their families. This research focuses on the Key Person Approach, which is a statutory requirement for ECEC practice in the United Kingdom (UK) characterised by close practitioner-child attachment relationships and parent partnerships. This thesis is concerned with gaining deeper understanding of emotional labour in ECEC, and explores the implementation of the related UK statutory duty for all early years practitioners to have regular supervision time for supported professional reflection. An empirical study with a cohort of graduate practitioners presents previously unpublished insights into experiences of emotional labour and supervision within a wide range of early years settings in South East England; thematic analytical processes within a phenomenological approach facilitate the emergence of six analytical themes from focus group and individual interview data. The rationale for the research is such that by exploring this previously under-examined area, a deeper understanding is provided, thus adding to both the literature in this area, while simultaneously contributing to discussion around workforce support and professional education and development needs. The study findings are of direct practical relevance as they inform the authoring of The Emotion Curriculum for The Early Years Workforce; this research output is a briefing document for workforce educators and trainers to support in the design of curricula to foster professional caring dispositions and emotional resilience in preparation to work in the emotionally demanding ECEC sector, and to encourage more consistency in professional supervision practices across the sector.

Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Thesis Supervisor:Taggart, G. and Bilton, H.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:77111


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