Children's Development as Participation in Everyday Practices across Different Institutions

Authors: Marilyn Fleer & Mariane Hedegaard


Children participate in different institutional collectives in their everyday life. Home, school, and kindergarten are the institutional contexts that most children share. Although there are variations between home practices and school practices, they collectively share a common core framed by societal conditions. In drawing upon Vygotsky's (1998) theory of the social situation of development and Hedegaard's (2009) theory of development conceptualised as the child's participation within and across several institutions at the same time, it has been possible to examine how school practices influence home practice and the child's social situation of development. A case study of an Australian child's participation across different institutions (family and school) was undertaken to capture and analyse the dynamic processes through which development was afforded. In the case study there was a large disjunction between institutional practices of the home and school that the child had to negotiate. Due to teacher knowledge of only the child's relation to the school institution, and not the home institution, the affordances for development and the child's changing relations to his environment, were invisible to the educators in this study. The findings suggest foregrounding an understanding of children's development as changes in children's activities and thereby changing their relations to reality across institutional practices in order to support a broader view of development in early childhood education.