We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Early Child Development and Care

For a Special Issue on
Social relationships, interactions and learning in early childhood - theoretical approaches, empirical findings and challenges

Abstract deadline
19 June 2021

Manuscript deadline
31 October 2021

Cover image - Early Child Development and Care

Special Issue Editor(s)

Laura Burkhardt, University of Innsbruck, Austria
[email protected]

Eva-Maria Embacher, University of Innsbruck, Austria
[email protected]

Wilfried Smidt, University of Innsbruck, Austria
[email protected]

Submit an ArticleVisit JournalArticles

Social relationships, interactions and learning in early childhood - theoretical approaches, empirical findings and challenges

“It is difficult to conceive of early learning outside of the context of relationships with others. Children are geared to learn from and with others” (Rule, 2015, p. 91).

Social relationships and interactions are crucial for social, emotional, and cognitive learning processes. It has been shown many times that warm and supportive interactions and relationships contribute to successful learning in early childhood – both in families and in ECCE institutions, such as preschools and daycare centers (Bradley, 2019; Burchinal, Peisner-Feinberg, Pianta, & Howes, 2002; Cameron, 2012; O’Connor & McCartney, 2007; Pianta, Downer, & Hamre, 2016). In early childhood, learning in relationships often takes place in the course of playing together, even though this possibility is reduced in many ECCE facilities today (Johnson & Mei-Hsuan Wu, 2019; Trawick-Smith, 2012).

The relevance of social relationships and interactions for learning during early childhood – including those between children and parents, children and teachers, teachers and parents, among children (peers), between teachers and between parents – has been discussed in education and psychology. Various theoretical approaches and terms frame the discussion. These include for example the Attachment Theory (Thompson, 2016), the Bioecological Theory (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006), the Developmental System Theory (Pianta, Hamre, & Stuhlman, 2003), Piagets and Banduras theory (MacBlain, 2018), Psychoanalytical pedagogical approaches (Mayes, 2009), Relational pedagogy (Papatheodorou, 2008) and Wygotskys theory of development (Bodrova & Leong, 2012) or other, newly discussed/critical theoretical approaches to relationships in early childhood (Degotardi, Page, & White, 2017; Gaus & Drieschner, 2012). Furthermore, pedagogical concepts also play a role in the discussion; they differ in how and to what extent they conceive the importance of relationships and interactions for learning processes (e.g. Montessori’s pedagogy, Reggio pedagogy: Edwards, 2002).

As concepts and theories have developed under specific (historic) circumstances, they must be reviewed in the context of current conditions. Therefore, the aim of the special issue is to show, discuss, and reflect on the importance and effects of social relations/interactions in connection with learning processes in the context of current challenges (e.g. communication between ECCE institutions and families, counseling and support for parents, the COVID-19 pandemic, digitalization, educational disadvantages, migration, professionalization/changes/demands in education and training of ECCE staff).

Submission Instructions

High-quality theoretical or empirical contributions that refer to learning in early childhood under current conditions are welcome. They could either show the theoretical significance of some type of social relationships/interactions (e.g. the relationship between children and teachers) for learning, or report empirical findings regarding the connection between social relationships/interactions and learning.

We especially welcome submissions from non-German speaking countries.

Please address any questions to Laura Burkhardt: [email protected]

Key dates and actions:

  • June 19th, 2021: Submission of 300-400-word proposals + short CV of the author, max. 50 words (function, institution, research interests) by e-mail with the subject line “Social relationships, interactions and learning in early childhood” to [email protected]
    Abstracts should clearly state how the paper is linked to the special issue theme.
  • July 9th 2021: Abstract proposal decision sent to author/s
  • October 31st 2021: First full paper submission due for review. Select "Social relationships, interactions and learning in early childhood - theoretical approaches, empirical findings and challenges” when submitting your paper to ScholarOne.
  • Review process will continue until January 31th 2022, with final submission due on April 30th 2022
  • May 31st 2022: Online publication available
  • June 30st 2023: Print copy publication available 

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article