Using strengths-based approaches in early years practice and research

Fenton, Angela, Walsh, Kerryann, Wong, Sandie, & Cumming, Tamara (2015) Using strengths-based approaches in early years practice and research. International Journal of Early Childhood, 47(1), pp. 27-52.

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Abstract

Strengths-based approaches draw upon frameworks and perspectives from social work and psychology but have not necessarily been consistently defined or well articulated across disciplines. Internationally, there are increasing calls for professionals in early years settings to work in strengths-based ways to support the access and participation of all children and families, especially those with complex needs. The purpose of this paper is to examine a potential promise of innovative uses of strengths-based approaches in early years practice and research in Australia, and to consider implications for application in other national contexts. In this paper, we present three cases (summarised from larger studies) depicting different applications of the Strengths Approach, under pinned by collaborative inquiry at the interface between practice and research. Analysis revealed three key themes across the cases: (i) enactment of strengths-based principles, (ii) the bi-directional and transformational influences of the Strengths Approach (research into practice/practice into research), and (iii) heightened practitioner and researcher awareness of, and responsiveness to, the operation of power. The findings highlight synergies and challenges to constructing and actualising strengths-based approaches in early years childhood research and practice. The case studies demonstrate that although constructions of what constitutes strengths-based research and practice requires ongoing critical engagement, redefining, and operationalising, using strengths-based approaches in early years settings can be generative and worthwhile.

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ID Code: 82742
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Strengths approach, Strengths-based approaches, Collaborative research, Case study
DOI: 10.1007/s13158-014-0115-8
ISSN: 1878-4658
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Current > Schools > School of Early Childhood
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Deposited On: 24 Mar 2015 23:27
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2015 05:15

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