‘Row, row, row your boat’: singing, identity and belonging in a nursery

Amanda Niland*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    The concept of belonging is widely recognised as a fundamental part of human development and a key element of early childhood curricula. The research presented here explores the role of singing in the development of children's sense of belonging in a day nursery for children aged from six months to two years. The research design incorporated ethnography and portraiture, an approach to narrative inquiry. Data were collected over seven months, with the researcher adopting a participant observer role during regular visits to the nursery. Observation and interpretation of singing focused on relationships between children and adults and between peers. Themes of identity, togetherness, intersubjectivity and communicative musicality were identified in the analysis of data. The portrait shows the intrinsically interactive nature of singing, providing rich evidence of ways in which singing both supports and reflects the children's relationships and hence their sense of identity and belonging. This research contributes to literature on the musical lives of infants and toddlers that supports the value of music, especially singing, in early childhood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4-16
    Number of pages13
    JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015


    • singing
    • toddlers
    • identity
    • belonging
    • togetherness


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