Young children's perspectives on their social interactions within early childhood settings

Kelly Baird*, Rebekah Grace

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents findings from mixed-method research exploring 3?5-year-old children?s social interaction experiences while attending one of three different early childhood settings: a therapeutic family support program; a supported playgroup; or a preschool. Thematic analysis of child interviews revealed differences in how children experienced peers, parents and staff depending on the setting, potentially reflecting differences in the composition and goals of the programs and the quality of the children?s peer interactions. Quantitative results suggested preschool children were more advanced in their social development than family support program and supported playgroup children. The parent-child attachment relationship, opportunities to practise appropriate social skills, language ability, and staff qualifications may also be influencing factors in child experiences of peer interaction. This research contributes to literature on how young children experience service environments and the need to respect children as important stakeholders whose perspectives can inform and support the programs they attend.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1669-1683
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number11
Early online date4 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2021


  • social interactions
  • early childhood settings
  • child voice
  • family support programs
  • participation

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