When and why do early childhood educators reminisce with children about their past experiences?

Penny Van Bergen*, Rebecca Andrews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


When children reminisce with adults about their own past experiences, they are offered a rich forum in which to develop cognitive and socioemotional skills, build their sense of self, and form emotional bonds. Little attention has been directed to reminiscing in educational contexts, however. Our aim was to explore when, how often, and why early childhood educators engage young children in reminiscing conversations. Participants included 251 Australian educators with 1–45 years of experience. Educators completed an online survey asking them (i) the number of times per day they engaged children in reminiscing, relative to other types of talk, and (ii) the times and places these reminiscing conversations were most likely to occur. While individual differences were apparent, more than 85% of educators reporting engaging children in reminiscing multiple times per day. Popular times included arrival (67.7%), meals (65.7%) and group/circle time (58.2%). Educators’ qualitative explanations suggested several important reasons to engage children in reminiscing, including to bond, establish home-centre connections, build children’s socioemotional competence, reflect on ‘centre life’ and support intentional learning activities. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-86
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Early Years Education
Issue number1
Early online date31 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • educator–child talk
  • reminiscing
  • past talk
  • rich talk
  • sustained shared thinking


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