The role and practice of interpersonal relationships in European early education settings: sites for enhancing social inclusion, personal growth and learning

P. Kutnick, A. Brighi, S. Avgitidou, M.L. Genta, M. Hannikainen, M. Karlsson-Lohmander, R. Ruiz, E. Rautamies, Jennifer Colwell, E. Tsalagiorgou, C. Mazzanti, S. Nicoletti, A. Sansavini, A. Guarini, E. Romera, C. Monks, M. Lofqvist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study sought to identify and compare the characteristics of the social pedagogic context of cognitive activities in a sample of early education settings in six European countries (England,Finland, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden). Previous research concerning the social context within which cognitive and learning activities take place has focused on practitioner–child relations; yet, children undertaking these activities spend the majority of their time with peers and away from the presence of practitioners. Data were collected in two early education settings in each of the countries, using research tools including descriptive narrative contextual information (concerning structure, size, curriculum framework), mapping of interpersonal activity, reflective rating scales (concerning nature of cognitive tasks and support for children’s interactions) and practitioner interviews (concerning children’s interactions for learning and development). Results identified some variation in frameworks, activity and practice between the partner countries but noted more generally that children are found in distinct pedagogic ‘worlds’ when acting/interacting with practitioners and peers. These pedagogic worlds were separated by size and composition of grouping, activities and communication. The pedagogic worlds also related to task and interpersonal support for learning and development within settings. Interviews with practitioners showed they were concerned to promote children’s social development but with a consistent focus on individual children’s development (rather than a social focus on all children). Conclusions identify that the distinctive pedagogic ‘worlds’ may be the source of social exclusion (especially among peers) and question how practitioners may more fully integrate/support a socio-constructive basis of cognitive activities into peer-based interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-406
Number of pages28
JournalEuropean Early Childhood Education Research Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2007


Cite this