Young children seem to begin to develop a sense of historical consciousness and associated belonging to a wider collective identity prior to the commencement of formal schooling. Historical consciousness is a capacity to differentiate and also make connections between the past, present and future that contributes to a growing understanding of one’s own life and identity in the context of a historical past. The responses of 24 young children aged from 3 to 7 years visiting a small social history museum were analysed through photo-elicitation and parent reports. It would seem that the museum experience assisted in the development of foundational concepts of historical consciousness. Growth of a sense of historical identity was evident for some children, related to a sense of belonging to the ‘we’ of contemporary times in contrast to the ‘they’ of the past. The role of language to support young children’s understanding and thinking is highlighted by this research.
- historical consciousness
- young children