“Eat, play, go, repeat”: Researching with older primary-age children to re-theorise School Age Care
AuthorHurst, Ian Bruce
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr Ian Bruce Hurst
School Age Care (SAC) is a setting that is little researched and the research that has been conducted has not often sought the perspectives of older children. This research used a combination of participatory methods and ethnography to gain a deeper insight into older children’s experiences of SAC, seeking their views about how to successfully program for this age group. Older children in SAC are commonly spoken of as rebellious, bored, disruptive and unsuited to SAC. The poststructural and feminist poststructural theories of Foucault (1977, 1980) and Butler (1990, 1993) are used to challenge the normative developmental discourses that circulate SAC. The data shows that older children have access to these developmental and maturational discourses and actively engage with them to perform themselves as more mature and separate from younger children. Their multiple performances of age intersect with gender and time as they both resist and work within the care practices that are experienced as a form of power over children’s bodies. Whilst the Australian Framework for School Age Care conceptualises SAC as a site of play, leisure and education, this research invites a re-theorisation of SAC for older children. It demonstrates that older children’s engagement with SAC includes ongoing acts of identity work, waiting and emotional labour that make play and leisure less free and more work-like. The findings suggest that practitioners should be aware of how developmental discourses are both enacted by the children and reinforced through programming design, and consider the impacts of segregating routines and practices on children’s play and leisure. Implications for programming in SAC and other settings include addressing the reality that waiting is unavoidable in SAC, and should be programmed for in the same way that play and leisure activities are planned. Whilst this research does not ‘solve’ the question of older children in SAC, it unsettles dominant understandings, therefore inviting practitioners to imagine new programming approaches that might improve SAC for older children.
Keywordsschool age care; outside school hours care; school age educare; leisure; post-structural theory; middle childhood; age
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