Young children constructs of quality

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Interim status: Citation only.

Harcourt, D. (2008). Young children constructs of quality. Paper presented at the 18th European Early Childhood Education Research Association (EECERA) annual conference, Stavanger, Norway.

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© Copyright Deborah Harcourt, 2008


Early childhood research and policy are focusing increasingly on issues of ‘quality’ in early childhood education. Much of the focus, however, has been on adult-generated notions of quality, with little attention being devoted to children’s own views of their experience in early childhood settings. Conducted in the context of early childhood education in Singapore, this research breaks new ground by contributing children’s own insights into their experience in two early childhood classrooms in Singapore. Informed by the sociology of childhood conceptualisation of child competence (James & James, 2004), the research methodology drew on the mosaic approach to researching with children (Clark and Moss, 2001). In addition to children’s photography, mapping and conversations, this study further demonstrated young children's competence by adding written narratives and worksamples to consider the quality of their early childhood settings. The findings of this study were generated, beginning with the understanding that young children have the competence to articulate their ideas using a range of symbolic literacies. They formed views and constructed theories about their preschool experiences, in particular about the teachers, the curriculum, the physical environment and friends, and gave a clear indication of what constitutes good quality in those domains. When offered a platform to discuss the issue of quality in early childhood settings, the children articulated ideas about their own best interests. This study concludes by calling for those engaged with children, to act upon the contributions offered by this group of children to our understanding of quality.

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