Tuesday 11 June 2024

Playtime! Inaugural International Day of Play promotes play for a better world

Did you see our media release celebrating the first International Day of Play? Playtime! Inaugural International Day of Play promotes play for a better world - CSU News

The article reads:

Charles Sturt University academics organising the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) in November are joining the celebrations of the inaugural International Day of Play on Tuesday 11 June by inviting children to draw themselves playing.

Organisers of the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) in November are inviting children to ‘draw themselves playing’ in recognition of the importance of play and International Day of Play on Tuesday 11 June

Play is a universal language spoken by people of all ages, transcending national, cultural and socio-economic boundaries

ECV2024 is a free interdisciplinary international conference to share research about innovative methods, theories, and partnerships with children, families and practitioners

Charles Sturt University academics organising the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) in November are joining the celebrations of the inaugural International Day of Play on Tuesday 11 June by inviting children to draw themselves playing.

Conference co-chair Dr Belinda Downey (pictured left, below with co-organisers) in the Charles Sturt School of Education said the first-ever International Day of Play marks a significant milestone that encourages all people, especially children, to prioritise playing and reap the beneficial rewards offered though play.

“Play has the power to transcend geographic, linguistic, cultural and socio-economic boundaries as it is a universal language,” Dr Downey said.

“Play can foster relationships, a sense of community, and national pride while supporting well-being and skill development.”

Dr Downey said research since the late 1800s has argued the role of play is fundamental in children’s learning and development.

“Through play, children can learn to solve their problems, with support from adults and independently. Play also assists children to develop agency in their lives, cultivate their resilience by overcoming fears, acquire conflict resolution skills essential for navigating life, and build their empathy and communication skills which are crucial for all their ongoing interactions and relationships,” she said.

“Early childhood professionals, including teachers and allied health practitioners, have long understood that engaging with play intentionally supports children’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical skill development.”

Researchers have found that intentional, guided play offers an optimal space for children to learn.

Intentional, guided play can occur through various activities like modelling, demonstrating, open-ended questioning, speculating, explaining and participating in shared problem-solving and thinking tasks with other children and adults.

Dr Downey explained that play environments that are engaging, welcoming and reflective of children’s interests and cultural backgrounds serve to stimulate their curiosity and promote meaningful and challenging experiences.

These environments and the relationships children develop through play facilitate the interactions that foster high-level thinking.

“Intentional and guided play are important but open-ended, spontaneous and child-centred play also hold an important role in children’s development,” she said.

“Play with peers provides children the necessary space and time to engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, form friendships, and learn to communicate effectively.

“These crucial skills set children up for academic success and lifelong learning and are developed during play.”

In celebration of International Day of Play, the organisers of the ECV2024 Conference are creating a global online gallery of children’s drawings titled Children Draw Playing.

This will be similar to the Children Draw Talking Global Online Gallery that was created in 2022 for ECV2022 where 200 children from 24 countries submitted drawings.

“Drawing is a form of play that offers children an inclusive way to teach adults about children’s perspectives and experiences of the world,” Dr Downey said.

“We want to share the voices of children from around the world in our international gallery by asking them to draw about their play.”

Parents can enter their child’s drawing here.

ECV2024 is a free interdisciplinary international conference focused on sharing research about innovative methods, theories and partnerships with children, families, and practitioners. It supports social justice during early childhood and within the early childhood sector.

International speakers will present research or commentary in a virtual online space. Presentations will share innovations to improve the lives of children and families and support the evidence-based practice of early childhood educators.

The ECV2024 conference will be held online from Monday 25 to Thursday 28 November and registrations can be made online at the conference website. Presentation submissions from early childhood researchers are welcome. 

Thursday 30 May 2024

Early Childhood Voices: Children, Familes, Professionals is published!

Congratulations Linda Mahony, Sharynne McLeod, Andi Salamon, Jenny Dwyer (Editors)

Early Childhood Voices: Children, Families, Professionals

  • Offers real life evidence-based examples and application to professional practice Brings together professionals across multiple disciplines from 17 countries Enacts the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

This revolutionary book explores theoretical and practical issues of listening to children, families, and professionals who advocate for and work with young children to promote social justice and improve their lives, and to ensure no one is left behind. Listening to children is explored across multiple disciplines internationally and highlights the practical application of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The work explores innovations, theories, and partnerships, and draws on the voices of children, families, early childhood educators, speech-language pathologists, and multidisciplinary teams from across 17 countries to provide a shared vision for equity, peace and justice for all while integrating social environmental, economic, and dimensions of sustainability. Topics include giving children a voice; methods for listening to and documenting young children’s perspectives; listening to and working in partnership with families, educators, and professionals; and wellness and wellbeing of young children and their families across multiple dimensions. To order your copy https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-031-56484-0?page=2#affiliations 

Book cover

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Join us for the Early Childhood Voices Conference 2024

Following its success in 2022, the online Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2024) is back from Monday 25 to Thursday 28 November 2024.

What to expect

Get set to expand your knowledge and enhance your practice at our multidisciplinary international conference. 

Hear from international researchers on the latest evidence, innovative methods, critical theories and collaborative partnerships in early childhood.

Engage in dynamic discussions with a passionate global community of researchers and professionals.

Extend your research and critical analysis capability and deepen your knowledge.

Present at ECV2024

Are you a researcher or research student? We invite you to share your work by submitting abstracts on your research about young children, families and practitioners. Qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method studies, rigorous and insightful reviews, and thought-provoking theoretical explorations are welcomed. Best of all, the conference is free to present at and attend. Abstract submissions close on Monday 29 July 2024

Early Childhood Voices Global Online Gallery
Are you the parent or guardian of a child? Or do you know someone with young children? Children are invited to be part of our global online gallery through a drawing and creating activity showcasing how diverse children draw and create playing. 

Learn more csu.edu.au/ecv2024

ECIR members launch ECV2024

Friday 1 March 2024

Decentring the Human in Qualitative Research Methodologies Seminar Series

Hosted by the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) Qualitative Research Methodologies Special Interest Group Convenors:

  • Dr Sheena Elwick, Charles Sturt University, Albury/Wodonga, Australia
  • Dr Keith Heggart, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

This free seminar series consists of six 1-hour online seminars via Zoom on the topic of decentring the human in qualitative research methodologies. Each seminar features a presentation by a guest speaker who has experience with decentring the human in the context of qualitative research methodologies in educational research. Each seminar will also be followed by a debriefing session.

The first seminar will be presented by Associate Professor Luke Bennett, Department of the Natural & Built Environment Sheffield Hallam University, UK on Thursday 21st March 2024 at 7.30pm – 8.30pm AEDT.

You will find detailed information about the series here including information about presenters, dates, times and registration details:  https://www.aare.edu.au/sigs/qualitative-research-methodologies/decentring-the-human-in-qualitative-research-methodologies-seminar-series/ (scroll down the page for details and the registration link for each seminar). More seminars are being added as dates and times are confirmed, and they will include national and international presenters. 

You do not need to be a member of AARE to register for any of the seminars and we are particularly keen to involve Early Career Researchers and Higher Degree Research students. 

Thursday 29 February 2024

Congratulations Distinguished Professor Sharynne McLeod

Congratulations to ECIR co-lead Sharynne McLeod on being appointed a Charles Sturt University Distinguished Professor. 

Nominations for Charles Sturt University Distinguished Professor are considered with reference to the following criteria:

  • An international reputation for exceptional research and scholarship
  • Professional peer recognition of significant achievements at a state, national and international level
  • Research/research team leadership
  • Outstanding community engagement

Sharynne McLeod

Thursday 22 February 2024

Congratulations Kate Margetson - PhD submission

Congratulations to Kate Margetson who submitted her PhD today. 

Her PhD is titled: "Moving Beyond Monolingual Practices with Multilingual Children: Learning from Vietnamese-English–Speaking Children, Families, and Professionals". Professor Sharynne McLeod and Associate Professor Sarah Verdon supervised Kate.

Congratulations Kate!

Here is Kate's PhD abstract:

Multilingual children’s speech assessment and differential diagnosis of speech sound disorders can be challenging for speech-language pathologists (SLPs), especially if they do not speak the same language as the children they are working with. While best practice recommendations include assessing children in all the languages that they speak, in many English-dominant contexts SLPs often rely on English assessments for diagnostic decision-making. There are few guidelines for how SLPs can assess, transcribe, and analyse speech in children’s home languages. This doctoral research aimed to explore assessment, transcription, speech analysis, and diagnosis of speech sound disorders in multilingual children involving direct speech assessment of children’s home languages. Vietnamese-English–speaking children and their families were the focus of this research.

The thesis contained four parts, which included five publications. Part One, Monolingual Speech-Language Pathologists in Multilingual Contexts (Chapter 1), included an orientation to the thesis, situated the researcher, presented a literature review, and outlined methodology. Linguistic multicompetence (Cook, 2016) and the emergence approach (Davis & Bedore, 2013) were presented as the theoretical frameworks underpinning the research.

Part Two, Vietnamese-English–speaking Children’s Speech described similarities and differences between Vietnamese and English phonology, Vietnamese-English–speaking children’s speech acquisition, and current resources available to SLPs for assessment and intervention with Vietnamese-English–speaking children (Chapter 2). The interaction between Vietnamese and English phonology was explored in a cross-sectional study (n = 149) of Vietnamese-English–speaking children’s and adult family members’ speech in Vietnamese and English (Chapter 3) and found that direction of cross-linguistic transfer in children’s speech was significantly associated with children’s age and language proficiency. 

Part Three, Diagnosis of Speech Sound Disorders in Vietnamese-English–speaking Children presented in-depth case studies of Vietnamese-English–speaking children’s speech. Case studies of four children considered the impact of assessing both languages on differential diagnosis (Chapter 4). All four children appeared to have speech sound disorder based on English assessment only, but analysis of children’s speech in both languages revealed that only two children had a speech sound disorder. A longitudinal case study explored four influences on a Vietnamese-English–speaking child’s speech over time (Chapter 5) and found that most speech mismatches could be explained by development, dialect, cross-linguistic transfer, and ambient phonology, and that cross-linguistic transfer reduced over time.

Part Four, Moving Beyond Monolingual Speech-Language Pathology Practices with Multilingual Children presented an evidence-based research protocol, the VietSpeech Multilingual Transcription Protocol, for assessing and transcribing multilingual children’s and adults’ speech, that ensured consistent and reliable transcription (Chapter 6). A clinical protocol, the Speech Assessment of Children’s Home Languages, was proposed, for SLPs to assess, transcribe, and analyse multilingual children’s speech, to account for the idiolects of children, their families, and their SLPs (Chapter 7). The Speech Assessment of Children’s Home Languages will enable SLPs to collaborate with family members and interpreters to assess speech in children’s home languages, providing opportunities to consider children’s entire phonological repertoires during diagnostic decision-making. Finally, conclusions, contributions of the doctoral research, limitations, and future directions were presented (Chapter 8).

This doctoral research sought to bridge a gap between research and practice in multilingual children’s speech assessment by demonstrating the importance of speech assessment of home languages, describing ways of analysing multilingual children’s speech to identify four potential mismatches (development, dialect, cross-linguistic transfer, ambient phonology), and outlining how SLPs move beyond monolingual practices in the way they assess, transcribe, and analyse multilingual children’s speech using the VietSpeech Multilingual Transcription Protocol and the Speech Assessment of Children’s Home Languages.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

First ECIR team meeting for 2024

The first team meeting for ECIR in 2024 was held on 15th February. We are all very excited about plans for the year ahead!

ECIR members

Friday 16 February 2024

Our Springer book cover has arrived!

 Our book cover has arrived!

Now we have a cover design, soon this book arising from papers at our first Early Childhood Voices Conference in 2020 will be published by Springer.

Thursday 8 February 2024

ECIR at AJEC Research Symposium

The 2024 Australian Journal of Early Childhood (AJEC) Research Symposium is taking place virtually on 8 and 9 February. 



The conference includes papers on innovative research methodologies, research and pedagogical practices. It will be attended by early years professionals, policymakers, researchers, leaders, academics, and students from Australasia and beyond. The 2024 AJEC Research Symposium program includes more than 50 presentations by Australian and international early childhood researchers. 

The CSU Early Childhood Interdisciplinary Research Group (ECIR)presented a symposium on the first day.

Our presentations were titled: Empowering children’s voices through the Children Draw Talking Project 

  • Listening to children: The Children Draw Talking Project - Belinda Downey, Sharynne McLeod 
  • Development of an instrument and protocol for the virtual collection and analysis of children’s drawings - Carolyn Gregoric, Van H. Tran, Suzanne C. Hopf, Sharynne McLeod 
  • A meaning-making analysis of children’s drawing vs children’s talking in the drawing: A cultural-historical perspective - Shukla Sikder, Lysa Dealtry, Sarah Stenson 

Dr Belinda Downey

Dr Carolyn Gregoric

Dr Shukla Sikder

ECIR member Leanne Gibbs also presented this morning. Her presentation was entitled "Leading early childhood education through crises and complex times".

We enjoyed the International Keynote Address by Associate Professor Sonja Macfarlane titled “He Awa Whiria and Early Literacy: The emancipatory power of braiding knowledge streams in research and practice”. The keynote speaker shared this resource: https://www.education.govt.nz/early-childhood/teaching-and-learning/assessment-for-learning/te-whatu-pokeka-english/

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Congratulations MRFF grant recipient, Professor Julian Grant

Congratulations ECIR member Professor Julian Grant on being part of a partnership led by the Sax Institute awarded a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Indigenous Health Research grant for a project entitled "Decolonising lactation care to support the initiation and maintenance of breastfeeding among First Nations women". The project aims to increase breast feeding by providing culturally appropriate lactation care. Further details https://www.saxinstitute.org.au/news/innovative-project-provides-breastfeeding-support-to-first-nations-women/ 

Thursday 14 December 2023

ECIR contributes to the development of the Human Rights 75 Youth Declaration

In August 2023, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) together with the HR75 Youth Advisory Group  conducted an online global youth consultation, where young people from all over the world shared their concerns and aspirations with regard to human rights and discussed what should be done by youth, States and the UN to reinforce human rights in the future.. ECIR submitted the only contribution by very young children. The outcomes of the online global youth consultation informed the development of the Human Rights 75 Youth Declaration. View ECIR contribution 

View ECIR contribution chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/issues/youth/hr75/submissions/subm-views-youth-led-cso-early-childhood-interdisciplinary-resear.pdf 

Link to Human Rights 75 Youth Declaration https://www.ohchr.org/en/calls-for-input/2023/call-input-views-youth-led-and-youth-focused-organizations-and-institutions 

Thursday 7 December 2023

ECV2024 planning commenced

On Tuesday the ECIR team began planning for the next Early Childhood Voices conference (ECV2024). Save the date: 24th to 28th November 2024. Further details to come.

First ECV2024 planning meeting

Tuesday 5 December 2023

ECIR 2023 Charles Sturt Research Excellence Award winners

Congratulations to everyone in the ECIR team on receiving a Charles Sturt Research Excellence Award. The award recognises and celebrates outstanding contributions of individuals and teams who engage in research excellence that contributes to the success of Charles Sturt and drives regional outcomes with global impact. 

What the nomination was for: 

This nomination is for excellence in research capacity building. ECIR provides an internship model where early career researchers are well supported by more experienced researchers in a wide range of research activities including organising conferences, editing books, writing book chapters, running research projects, analysing data, writing journal articles, and applying for promotion and grants.

Members work collaboratively on projects such as the hosting of the Early Childhood Voices Conference (ECV2022), recent submission of an edited book arising from ECV2020 presentations, and analysis of children’s drawings from across the globe. These joint projects develop knowledge, skills and experience for members to pursue their own research interests.

Why it is Excellence Award worthy:

Not only have ECIR members been very research active themselves, but they have created capacity building opportunities for other researchers, within and beyond the team. Members willingly share with each other for the benefit of all and to grow knowledge about early childhood and conducting research, particularly from an interdisciplinary perspective.

The group brings together Educators, Speech Pathologists, Psychologists, Computer Scientists, Nurses and Physiotherapists who may not usually research together.

Achievements over the past year include journal articles (55 accepted + 16 submitted), conference papers( 59 presented/accepted for presentation +18 conference workshops/seminars etc + 4 submitted), book chapters (29 published/in press + 1 submitted), books  (3 published/in press + 1 under contract), and conference proceedings (1 published).

They also have a high level of community engagement with 3 events hosted/training delivered, 22 media coverages, 4 media contributions, social media profile, 5 public lectures/presentations, 19 community consultations. Members are well recognised for their achievements with 3 individual and 1 group awards, leadership/membership of professional associations and editorial boards, invited working party and advisory participants.

They have had 2 PhD completions and 2 PhD submissions by ECIR members and provide HDR support to 17 students.