Children’s participation in preschool documentation practices.

Pettersson, K.E.
Childhood 22(2), 231-247.


The purpose of this study is to highlight the complexity of children's participation in preschool documentation practices, as well as to discuss how children can participate in the documentation process.


The author concludes that documentation practices in preschools are a complex phenomenon, which are affected by the entities involved in the documentation process as well as by the aim of the documentation and the pedagogy behind a given practice. The study indicates that different documentation practices do not always correspond to their theoretical foundations that entail certain types of participation. In the study, one group applied a Reggio Emilia inspired approach to documentation, where documentation is integrated in or directly follows an activity. The other group used portfolios (with pictures, drawings and short descriptions) as a retrospective type of documentation that looks back on earlier activities at the preschool. The Reggio Emilia inspired approach focuses on highlighting the children's understanding of a given theme. However, the study indicates that this focus does not necessarily ensure that children have a genuine chance of influencing the documentation process. Instead, children's active participation in the preschool’s documentation practice is determined by an interaction between what needs to be documented, the child's and teacher's objective with the documentation, the child's interests, the teacher's flexibility as well as a perception of what documentation actually is. In connection with this, the author points out that it is the children's own interests as well as the teacher's flexibility and responsiveness to the child’s initiative that encourage children to participate in the documentation process.


The study draws on data from two groups of children from a single preschool. The preschool was selected based on its particular focus on children's participation in documentation practices. The data material consists of video footage of documentation situations in each of the two groups.


Pettersson, K.E. (2015). Children’s participation in preschool documentation practices. Childhood 22(2), 231-247.

Financed by

This study received funding from the Swedish Research Council.