The Affordances and Constraints of Visual Methods in Early Childhood Education Research: Talking Points from the Field

  • Rachel Heydon
  • Lori McKee
  • Lynda Phillips
Keywords: visual methods, early childhood education, multimodality, voice


Visual methods are increasingly being developed and used in early childhood research. The literature strongly suggests the affordances of visual methods; still, such methods are not unproblematic. Through a critical reading of literature pertinent to visual methods in early childhood research (i.e., involving children from birth to age 8), including multimodal literacy literature, this paper offers six discussion points to promote critical conversations among educational researchers about visual methods. The points pertain to the de nition of visual methods, their potentialities in early childhood research, children’s rights and participation in research, authenticity and children’s voices, methods for interpretations of visual texts elicited from children, and ethics and assent. Aggregated, the points suggest the need for the enactment of critical, dialogic relationships between methods and methodologies, adults and children, and researchers and research participants. 

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