Children's collaborative encounters in pre-school.

Svinth, L.
Early Child Development and Care 2012, 1-16.


The purpose of this study is to investigate children’s different types of collaboration at daycare facilities. The purpose is then to investigate how the institutional requirements affect children’s collaboration from a learning perspective. Focus is particularly on vulnerable children in peripheral positions.


The study shows that when communication between the pedagogical staff and the child is limited to instructions, for example, it is difficult to maintain a symmetric and collaborative learning environment. According to the study, it is necessary to challenge the underlying view of learning. The pedagogical practice seems to be driven by an unclear understanding of learning in which focus in the pedagogical practice is on documentation, results and activities controlled by adults, whereas the children’s perspective and collaboration seem to be less important. The study finds two main patterns in children’s collaboration. The first pattern relates to when the children’s interests and involvement within a pedagogical activity spontaneously lead to a collaborative encounter. The other pattern relates to when the pedagogical staff lose control of a pedagogical activity and thereby open up for the children’s collaborative encounter. Collaborative encounters arise from involvement, however the collaborative encounter itself can also lead to more intense involvement. One exception to this pattern emerges when the pedagogical staff restrict the encounter. Furthermore, the study shows that the children’s expectations and competences are not valued as learning resources, and as the pedagogical staff do not initiate collaboration, the vulnerable children in particular get little experience with collaboration.


The study is a Danish qualitative, ethnographic study which over a period of 11 months has observed between three and 14 children aged three to five years in connection with different pedagogical activities. Data was collected with a hand-held camera in 24 different recordings at two daycare centres. Both daycare centres are located in areas with a large proportion of children with weak socio-economic backgrounds.


Svinth, L. (2012). Children's collaborative encounters in pre-school. Early Child Development and Care 2012, 1-16.

Financed by

The Egmont Foundation, Denmark