“Communities of children: participation and its meaning for learning”.

Stanek, A. H.
International Research in Early Childhood Education, 5(1), 139-154.


The objective of the article is to investigate children’s social lives, with focus on their subjective navigation of the transition from daycare to school. The article presents a further development of theoretical concepts for ways in which we can understand children. The article also contributes knowledge about children’s subjective view of their lives. The article focusses on the transition from daycare to school from the point of view of the child, and it presents an analysis of how this transition appears for children and what seems to be important for children in this context.


The analysis of the transition from daycare to pre-school class is based on two empirical examples. One example focusses on how a group of boys who were monitored through the research project, participate in communities of children, and how they establish conditions for each other’s participation. Children are co-creators of each other’s participation possibilities, and the boys’ participation possibilities seem to be more or less the same across several situations. The same boys are always the “leaders/captains” and the same boys are always those who “get the ball”. The characteristics in communities of children are transferred from daycare to school. Furthermore, the study shows that there is a mutuality in the way in which boys participate in communities of children with each other, and the way in which adults at the institutions think about and describe the children. This mutuality also has significance for children’s possibilities and framework for acting within the institutional space.


The study points out that there is a relationship between a) what the boys do based on their possibilities to take part in communities of children, b) the boys’ options to act in relation to an institutional framework and its rules, and c) the way in which the adults understand/experience children’s potential actions. The study therefore indicates that we have to understand children’s communities in order to understand their actions and their learning.


A group of children from different daycare centres was followed in connection with their transition from daycare to a pre-school class and school-based leisure-time facility, and from pre-school class to the second year of primary school. The point of departure for the empirical material is observations of 15 children from four different daycare centres, all of which ended in the same pre-school class. The observations were made before the summer transition to pre-school class. Later, the children were observed for their first three months in pre-school class. They were monitored during lessons, breaks and at their school-based leisure-time facility. Finally they were monitored in the same way for the first three months in their second year of primary school. The observations were supplemented with interviews with some of the children as well as interviews with all the professionals around the children, i.e. children and early childhood educators.



Stanek, A. H. (2014). “Communities of children: participation and its meaning for learning”. International Research in Early Childhood Education, 5(1), 139-154.

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