An expansive view of care is vital to understanding children’s sense-making of their care experiences in early childhood education. Yet, scant literature explores how toddlers enact and express understandings of care in their play with objects and others. This article identifies play situations where toddlers enact and express understandings, and co-author narratives, of care with teachers. Discussion focuses on video data from two studies that investigated infants’, toddlers’ and teachers’ pedagogical relationships in New Zealand and Australian settings. Cultural-historical and co-authoring concepts supported analysis of toddlers’ object-centred play and caring actions. Findings show that toddlers engage teachers in co-creating caring actions while enacting and expressing care with dolls. We argue that this collaborative, object-centred play enables toddlers to co-author meanings of, and identity as, the one-caring. Implications emphasize teachers’ intentional role and joint-play actions in supporting toddlers’ initiatives to co-author care play narratives and their identity as the one-caring.
- caring encounters
- early childhood education