Supporting Aboriginal families’ and children’s developing sense of belonging at KindiLink
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
School of Education / School of Arts and Humanities
© The Author(s) 2020. This paper reports on findings from four case studies, as part of a large-scale study undertaken to evaluate the KindiLink initiative across Western Australia in remote, regional and metropolitan communities. KindiLink is an educator-led playgroup initiative in public school sites in Western Australia targeted at Aboriginal children and their families. KindiLink aims included the cultivation of Aboriginal families’ and children’s developing sense of belonging and engagement at their local primary school. A constructivist paradigm was used to describe the subjective experiences of individuals, which was important to ascertain if the aims of KindiLink had been met. To complement the meaning-making of the experience, qualitative data were collected via detailed studies of four KindiLink sites to capture similarities and differences of the settings and gain depth of experience through the voices of the participants. The study found KindiLink successfully connected Aboriginal children and families to schools and built a sense of belonging and productive relationships between families, staff, school and the community in a culturally safe space. Furthermore, KindiLink developed the capacity and confidence of parents as their children’s first teachers and supported the home learning environment. The Aboriginal Indigenous education officer in each programme was critical to the engagement of Aboriginal families and acknowledgement of cultural aspects important to children’s growing cultural identities. The relationships built between KindiLink staff and families, and between families, were important for children’s and their families’ growing sense of belonging to the school, which assisted participation at school.