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Groepsfunctioneren in de kinderopvang, een conceptueel kader

Mireille C. Aarts, J. Marianne Riksen-Walraven



In Dutch child care it is generally assumed that group functioning influences children's wellbeing and development. Yet, a clear definition of the functioning of a child care group is lacking. This article describes a conceptual framework for child care group functioning based on Robert Hinde's model of social complexity (1987). Group functioning is defined as a relatively stable pattern of interactions between group members, associated with cognitions (expectations) and emotions, that develops over time as a function of internal (group) and external (contextual) influences. Each group has its own unique pattern, which may be described on two dimensions, namely group cohesion and emotional climate. Cohesion is the extent to which interactions within a group reflect togetherness and connectedness. It concerns the number and pattern of dyadic interactions (network structure), the extent to which the behaviour of individual group members is mutually coordinated (joint action) and the degree of positive involvement between group members. The emotional climate concerns the positive versus negative tone of the emotions expressed in the group. Although little is known about group functioning in the child care setting, it is plausible that it influences children's socio-emotional and cognitive development. Therefore group functioning can be seen as a relevant part of child care quality. Additional empirical research is needed to acquire more knowledge about group functioning in child care.

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