Supporting the Development of Sexuality in Early Childhood: What do Early Childhood Educators Need to Know?

Akers, Taylor
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University of Guelph

Sexuality development is a fundamental domain of development that unfolds from birth (WHO, 2006; WHO et al., 2017). As practitioners supporting well-being throughout early childhood (i.e., birth up to age 12), Early Childhood Educators are uniquely positioned to support children’s sexuality development. The purpose of Study 1 was to review pre-service ECE programs in Ontario to determine the preparation ECEs receive to support sexuality development. A content analysis indicated that although sexual development is not explicitly included in many ECE training programs, there are overlapping competencies within educator- training where the development of sexuality could be addressed. The purpose of Study 2 was to define the scope of developmentally appropriate practice for ECEs supporting the development of sexuality in early childhood. Key informant interviews outlined various competencies (e.g., understanding sexuality and gender development), considerations (e.g., culturally sensitive care), and skills (e.g., communication) ECEs need during pre-service training.

developmentally appropriate practice, key informant interviews, qualitative content analysis, early childhood education, sexuality development