Building positive research relationships with young children

Publication Date



My research investigated four young Australian children's experiences of art in their homes, and as they moved from early childhood centres to schools. Each child had a digital camera with which s/he took photographs of art and wider experiences. Over approximately a one-year period, I regularly met with the children in their homes, preschool, and schools. The intense involvement in the children's lives, and the use of digital photography through which meaning was shared and negotiated, constituted a visual ethnographic approach (Pink, 2001) and the children's conversations, images and experiences generated narratives of experience (Clandinin and Connelly, 2000). Building positive and dynamic research relationships with the children, their families, teachers and wider communities was vital throughout the research. This paper outlines the principles that guided my interactions with young research participants. These principles considered how perspectives on children, research and theory influenced research processes; how co-researcher's roles are negotiated and dynamic; and how research relationships developed and changed over time and experience. The paper also considers the tensions that arose when working at the boundaries of one's own beliefs and those of the research participants.


School of Education

Document Type

Journal Article

Access Rights

ERA Access