The multimodal analyses to children’s voices

Fernanda Liberali, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo – PUC-SP, Brazil (
Emilia Cipriano Sanches, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo-PUC-SP, Brazil (
Sandra Cavaletti Toquetão, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo-PUC-SP, Brazil (

Background: This project involves designing meaning from the multimodal observation and interaction with children to figure out how they produce their cultures. For this purpose, close analyses of the resources such as tone of voice, facial expressions, body movement, choice of colors, proximity, gaze, word, gestures, drawings will guide the interpretation of how meaning is producing different “cultures of childhood”. This procedure is used to resist epistemic and socio-political subjugation of the agency and positionality of children within the discursive practices they are engaged in.

Aim: To discuss multimodal strategies to resist power/knowledge frameworks that attempt to explain childhood without children’s voices.

Method: Data were drawn from a group of 5-6-year-old students of a public preschool. Part of the data refers to activities organised by teachers before the pandemic while they engaged in discussions about boys and girls in the practice of soccer playing at school. The other part involves activities developed by teachers together with families during remote education, in order to recover children’s perception of the roles of boys and girls at home.

Results: The multimodal analyses of the verbal-visual material presented children de-silencing/voicing their positions in terms of gender issues, mediated by the contexts where they are situated. Before the pandemic, children had more opportunities to voice different positions unveiling omissions and silences of discursive practices which are generally limited by their immediate family cultures.

Conclusions: The multimodal analysis allowed attention to the experiences and discursive practices of children while, simultaneously, uncovered the need for educators, parents and researchers to avoid imposing an adult-centric and one truth-only narrative of life.

Implications for children: Your parents’ and educators’ ideas are fantastic and so are yours. Express them the way you want, use drawings, gestures, words, movements, whatever you think is better. Just voice what you think.

Implications for families: Your children are part of who you are, and they are also very singular persons who will grow up and need to fight their own battles. They need to understand that they can express their ideas in different ways and that they will learn to be respected and valued for them.

Implications for practitioners: Let’s create opportunities for children to show their ideas, to expand them, to create them, to teach us about their dreams, wishes and interests. Let’s learn to listen to their voices!

Funding: National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico)

Key words: children’s voices, education, COVID-19.

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: