Children's negotiation tactics and socio-emotional self-regulation in child-led play experiences: the influence of the preschool pedagogic culture

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Early Childhood Education (ECE) typically positions the child at the centre of their own learning, with a high degree of child-initiated and child-led experiences. As such, ECE is often characterised by 'free play' during which children are provided with opportunities to manage and negotiate their socio-emotional interactions. This process of self-regulation is carefully moulded by a complex preschool pedagogic culture. Drawing on data from two projects that investigated children's social and creative play through exploratory qualitative observations, interviews and child-centred play-based methodologies, this article describes how children interpret cues in formal ECE settings to determine how they manage and regulate their play experiences and socio-emotional interactions. Findings demonstrate that children interpreted four elements of the pedagogic culture: Child-Centred Pedagogies, Structural Hierarchies, Rules and Regulations; and Agency and Power. Children manoeuvred these elements of the pedagogic culture to shape their negotiation tactics and socio-emotional selfregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-965
Number of pages15
JournalEarly Child Development and Care
Issue number7
Early online date6 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018


  • socio-emotional
  • self-regulation
  • pedagogic culture
  • child centered play
  • negotiation

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