Documenting emotional capital practices in infant pedagogy

Andi Salamon, Charles Sturt University, Australia (

Background: Infants have sophisticated social capacities from birth that lay foundations for evocative emotional communication in their first year of life, however, these are often underestimated and undervalued. This can leave infants ‘lost in translation’. The innovative concept of ‘emotional capital’ can help reconcile misinterpretation of infants, with their observable practices.

Aim: To document infants’ evocative and sophisticated emotional communication, i.e., emotional capital practices, and engage educators in critical reflective practice about the infants’ practices and their responses to them.

Method: The ethnographic research approach was conducted in an early years learning setting in regional NSW, and generated data using photographic and video footage, field notes, and group meetings. The project utilises the Theory of Practice Architectures as a methodological and analytic framework, and draws on developmental literature to code the visual data of infants’ emotional capital practices as sayings, doings and relatings.

Results: Emerging findings in relation to infants’ active, playful, and powerful emotional engagement, and educators’ own emotional responses, will be discussed.

Implications for children: You may participate in research processes, be better understood and feel better in your being. Your rights to the best learning and development will be upheld, through playful learning and more space to choose your own actions.

Implications for practitioners: Participating in research processes helps you gain insights and learn from deep, critical reflection. By better understanding the very young children you work with, you can feel more emotional wellbeing and understand how to plan for playful pedagogies.

Implications for families: You can share in the research process also and in doing so, may better understand your babies and toddlers and feel better in your interactions with them at home.

Funding: The project is the successful 2018 Jean Denton Memorial Scholarship winner and was funded by the Lilian de Lissa and Jean Denton Memorial Trusts.

Key words: children’s voices, professionals’ voices, wellbeing, communication, education, health, qualitative methods, theory.

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