AIM: To find methods of researching children’s experiences of their kindergarten ‘which played to their strengths’ (Clarke, A. 2004, p144) and used the young children’s creativity and physical connection with their kindergarten.

Eight children aged 3-4 years old from the kindergarten nursery

A multi methods approach was taken to allow children with different abilities and interests to participate. These comprised:

Observation: The researcher observed children in their normal kindergarten day using the questions ‘Do you listen to me?’ and ‘What is it like for me to be here?’ to guide their observations.

Child conferencing: Using a structured schedule of questions developed by other researchers for educational settings the researcher asked questions such as why children came to the nursery, what they liked and disliked. Children could add their own details. The researcher repeated the interviews four months later when children could listen to their previous answers and add to them. The researcher found that some children did not like this structured interview approach and started to conduct conferences whilst moving around.

Using cameras: Children were asked to take photographs of ‘what was important in the nursery’ (Clarke, A. 2004, p145) using single use cameras. Each child was given a set of their photographs whilst a second set was kept for the research.

Tours: Tours developed from taking photographs as a way of responding to the natural way children communicated with the researcher. Children individually, in pairs or threes took the researcher on a tour of their nursery.  They recorded a commentary as they took her around the nursery retracing their steps from their arrival in the morning to the places important to them stopping to take photographs of chosen places on the way around.

Map making: This activity enabled children to bring together their photographs which gave them an opportunity to talk more about their nursery and the different parts of it important to them.

Interviews [with parents and adults]: were used to give valuable information about children’s experiences particularly to children who were not yet talking.

There were a range of findings which included: