Creating a Sense of Togetherness through Humor and Laughter i ...

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Research on the role of daycare in children’s lives shows many benefits for children’s social competence. In the Malaysian context, where the number of childcare settings is growing rapidly, early childhood education research remains limited within the field of understanding the complexity of young children’s social competence. This study opens up this under-researched field in Malaysia through qualitative case studies in three early childhood centers. Each case study involved video-recorded observations of the children’s interactions with peers. The aim of the study was to examine how children create a sense of togetherness and exercise social competence among themselves at their daycare centers. The observations of children’s peer interactions revealed complex negotiations by the children who were actively creating a sense of togetherness at their daycare centers through humor and laughter. In the process of these interactions, children exercised the skills of becoming socially competent participants in their center. Considering data from the perspective of Loizou’s theory of the absurd, instances of humor and laughter were classified around two very similar themes—incongruous use of objects and making funny sounds. The findings provide a picture of how these humorous acts not only created feeling of amusement and joy in children but also constructed a sense of togetherness. This has implications for understanding the roles of daycare regarding children’s peer interactions and social competence as well as how caregivers can enhance children’s learning to make a social difference.