Children's Experiences of Starting School in Norway: Focusing on Social Interaction and Play
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Starting school is a milestone in children’s lives and the transition from day care to school involve changes in many aspects of their everyday lives. The children spend much of their time at school and therefore I have chosen this forum for studying children social interaction and play. Meaningful relationships and play activities are highly valued by children and should therefore be given attention. The main purpose of this study is to explore the rich and complex child culture that children share in their social networks. The children’s interaction during free play and learning situations can teach us more about children as competent social actors. The shared and separate features of boys and girls playgroups will also be investigated. The study is based on fieldwork conducted in a Norwegian, urban school from August to October in 2011. I participated in the daily activities of a Year 1 class four days a week. My participants consisted of five boys and ten girls around six years old. They were all ethnically Norwegian from middle-class backgrounds. The data was produced through participant observation and group interviews. The theoretical framework of my study is sociology of childhood. I have made use of several theoretical concepts in my analysis such as ‘Play culture’ (Mouritsen, 2002) and Social competence (Hutchby & Moran-Ellis, 1998). The major findings were that the children spoke of meaningful relationship and play activities as essential components of their everyday lives. Even though many of the children had yet to establish friendships at school they expressed that they preferred ‘being together’ more than ‘being alone’. This communal value guided the children in their construction of friendships and also their application of social rules implemented by the teachers. My observation of the children’s interaction confirmed Mouritsen’s (2002) perspective of social competence as a “Constantly negotiated dynamic developed in situations” more than “more or less stable personal characteristics” (Ogden, 2001). The children made use of their cultural and material resources to promote personal or communal interests.