European Early Childhood Education Research Association

Koch, A. B. (Arrangør)

    Aktivitet: Deltagelse i eller arrangement af en begivenhed - typerKonference


    EECERA 2011 Conference in Geneva

    Working for the well-being of children – how do pedagogues know if children are being well?

    Anette Boye Koch, PhD student, Centre of Research in Childhood Health, University of Southern Denmark and VIA University College, Department of Social Education, Jydsk.
    Mailing address
    Kankboellevej 32, 8530 Hjortshoej, Denmark
    E-mail address

    Abstract text (max 500 ord)

    Danish legislation prescribes that Danish early childcare professionals (pedagogues) ensure the well-being of children in early childcare institutions, but there is a lack of detail in literature concerning how to actually do this. The aims of the study were to investigate how pedagogues work in order to take care of the well-being of children in an early childcare institution.
    This was done by exploring how well-being is comprehended and interpreted by the pedagogues as well as elucidating their ways of seeing children with the use of different ‘seeing-techniques’ in order to recognise happiness as an indicator of well-being.

    Well-being was conceptualised by a multidisciplinary approach with reference to psychology, anthropology and sociology. When considering the pedagogues’ views on the happy child, a social constructionist perspective on childhood based on ‘new sociology of childhood’ was applied.
    Data was analysed using the philosophical theory of Merleau-Ponty concerning the knowing body.
    A two month field study was carried out in a Danish early childcare institution using ethnographic participation, field notes and formal semi-structured interviews. Special attention was paid to pedagogues’ descriptions of well-being as to bodily expressions of well-being in children.

    Main findings
    Pedagogues capture well-being in children by using 3 different seeing-techniques:
    ‘The assessing eye’ – when pedagogues observe children in order to assess the development, the learning or the competences of an individual child seen in relation to a standard. A standard indicating what they expect of children in general.
    ‘The surveilling eye’ – when pedagogues simultaneously keep children under surveillance, keep an eye on and take care of the children. They typically use ‘the surveilling eye’ at the playground in order to supervise and maintain order, but also to offer comfort and protection if demanded by a child.
    ‘The bodily eye’ – when pedagogues engage their own entire body in perceiving the phenomena that appear, when a pedagogue encounter the body of a child. This can be visual sensations, moods, feelings, pitch or intonation. ‘The bodily eye’ works in two directions. It is linked to the pedagogues’ former experiences with the body signals of a specific child, but also to their own bodily experiences with sensations and the expression of emotions.

    The pedagogues translate well-being into happiness, and recognise emotions and signs of happiness expressed by children predominantly with use of ‘the bodily eye’.
    The pedagogues encourage body activity on the playground, whereas physical body activity is terminated inside the building. When participating in daily activities and routines indoors, the children are socialised to being bodily passive, and they are expected to control their body signals in order to adapt to prevailing social norms of quietness, concentration and sedentary activities. Consequently, the ‘happy child’ is expected to behave differently depending on being inside or outside the building.
    The analysis suggests ‘the attuned child’ as an ideal when pedagogues are working for well-being in children. ‘The attuned child’ is competent of attuning his/her body to meet the very different expectations and norms of behavior that rule in the different contexts of a childcare institution.

    ‘Seeing-techniques’, well-being, happiness, ‘the attuned child’.
    PlaceringGeneva - Lausanne, Schweiz