Early childhood educators’ conceptions of infants’ capabilities: the nexus between beliefs and practice

Andi Salamon*, Linda Harrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


The conceptions early childhood educators (ECEs) hold about infants can guide their pedagogical practices in ways that can enable and constrain infants’ experiences. Literature regarding infants’ development and the role of adults in infant learning theoretically positions infants as both being capable of independent learning, and needing adult intervention and involvement. However, there is a paucity of research about ECEs’ understandings of infants’ capabilities, and how these conceptions influence their practices with babies. Using the theory of practice architectures as a methodological and analytical framework, this study collaboratively examines the ways educators’ conceptions are influenced by cultural-discursive arrangements of the site, and identifies the ensuing practices. The findings show that educators held conceptions of infants as more capable of independently directing their own physical and cognitive learning, and as more dependent on educators for emotional and social learning. Considering infants as both more and less capable is discussed, and implications of how the practices might enable and constrain infants’ learning are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-288
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Years
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • infant pedagogy
  • educators' conceptions
  • educators practices
  • infants capabilities


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