Early Childhood Services as Inclusive Contexts. Opportunities to Support Families

From Firenze University Press Journal: Rivista Italiana di Educazione Familiare — RIEF

University of Florence
3 min readNov 2, 2023

Moira Sannipoli, Università di Perugia

  1. Supporting parenting in early childhood

Childcare services represent an important developmental opportu-nity for all children in the motor, socio-relational, communicative-lin-guistic, affective-emotional and cognitive spheres (Barnett, 2011; Pianta et al., 2012). The educational experiences lived in the first six years of life participate significantly in the growth and construction of a life project that dynamically intertwines personal and social dimensions (Fortunati, 2020, p. 18). In the multiplicity of purposes that these educational contexts pur-sue, there is also an explicit reference to support for parenting, both in terms of conciliation and support for the primary educational function. In “Proposal for key principles of a Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care” (Lazzari, 2016), parents are defined as the most important allies in educational intervention in the early years, but also the expression of a growing social, socio-economic, cultural and religious diversity that must be recognised and welcomed, nurturing a climate of trust and mutual respect. The approach referred to starts from the need to recognise the centrality of an ecology of development (Bron-fenbrenner, 2002), but at the same time also to design interventions that enable progressive self-efficacy work, which can increase if adequately supported and increased. This is not an intervention on families (Rayna, Bouve, 2013), but a participatory construction to realise a thinking and doing together, a feeling of belonging and mutual accompaniment. In this space of proximity, parents experience meaningful relationships that are based on openness to mutual knowledge possessed, on the sharing of educational practices, on the exchange of family lexicons between adults, on learning to construct “middle ground” between different educational dilemmas (Milani, 2018).

This care among adults takes on an even stronger value when those entering the service are parents who have recently received a diagnosis for their child and who, until now, have been confronted with profes-sional skills and worlds that are more health-related and far removed from educational frameworks. The role that educational staff can play is doubly important: on the one hand, doing everything possible so that the child can live a serene daily life full of opportunities, and on the other hand, allowing the couple to find a space of acceptance, confron-tation and hope. Trying to nurture horizons of possibility is an objective that early childhood services cannot give up and that they must learn to attend to with intentionality and constancy. An important contribution to these issues was made by the European Agency for Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education with its Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE) project, which aims to identify, analyse and promote the essential elements of inclusive early childhood education. As part of this project, a self-reflection tool called the “Self Reflection Tool” was developed that educators can use to reflect on the inclusiveness of their facility, focusing on the social context and the learning and physical environment. The self-reflection tool fo-cuses on the proximal processes that children experience in services and pays special attention to the context factors that influence each child’s participation. The tool was initially designed as a moment of external observation and later gained a self-reflection purpose for the teams (Soukakou, 2012).Reflection on these issues has also grown recently in Italy.Legislative Decree №65 of April 13, 2017 established the integrat-ed education and education system, which reordered the framework na-tionwide. Article 1 reports how equal opportunities for education, care, relationships, and play, are guaranteed to girls and boys, from birth to six years, in order to develop potential for relationships, autonomy, crea-tivity, and learning, in an appropriate affective, playful, and cognitive context, overcoming territorial, economic, ethnic, and cultural inequali-ties and barriers. It is argued that the integrated system of education and schooling from birth to six years therefore contributes to reducing cultural, social and relational disadvantages, promoting the inclusion of all girls and boys, respecting all diversities, through personalized inter-ventions. The inclusive dimension has also been called up in the recent Pedagogical Guidelines for the “zerosei” integrated system and in the National Guidelines for Early Childhood Education Services, dismissed in December 2021.

Read Full Text: https://oaj.fupress.net/index.php/rief/article/view/14515

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36253/rief-14515



University of Florence

The University of Florence is an important and influential centre for research and higher training in Italy