“A Day in the Life” is an ecological approach to studying thriving young children. Three international teams of researchers have been involved with the work since its origins in 2002 and there have been other offshoots. At the centre of the innovative project methodology is the videoing of ‘A Day in the Life’ of children and youth, and then the iterative reviewing of some of that data with project participants.

The original project involved two-and-a-half-year-old girls at home in Canada, Italy, Peru, Thailand, Turkey, the UK and the USA. The multidisciplinary, international project team studied the girls’ interactions with their environments, including members of their families. Participatory understandings were developed through watching and discussing parts of the original data with the families and subsequent detailed scrutiny of the video records and transcripts. The project team was led to pay attention to diverse activities including humour, musicality, swinging, drawing, place-making, eating, play, joint book reading and many others that demonstrated reciprocity in the development of understandings. The project contributed to studies of human culture as it is woven in the everyday.

Using a range of visual methods, the second project explores the resilience of adolescents in diverse locations around the globe as well.  Teenagers in four locations in Canada partnered with in four locations abroad (China, Thailand, India and South Africa) are being studied to determine the themes emerging from observing the days in their lives that indicate the roots of their thriving.  This team’s research can be accessed through the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax Nova Scotia. Themes of the contributions to thriving of traditional culture, identities, security strivings, and humour are emerging in this work.

The third initiative is studying a ‘day in the life’ of children in transition to school, and in particular, transitions of children from cultures different from the culture of the larger community in which the school is located.  This project engages scholars and early years educators in six cultural contexts chosen for their initiatives in fostering vibrant transitional experiences in transitions to school.

In 2016 the project methodology was adopted by Working Group 1 Digital literacy in homes and communities of the COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) programme The Digital Literacy and Multimodal Practices of Young Children

International Perspectives on Early Childhood Research: A Day in the Life

The project has published many journal papers, book chapters and contributed to international conferences (see the publications page). A book consolidating the work of the original project was published in 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan. A flyer with order form.

Editors: J. Gillen and C.A. Cameron. London: Palgrave Macmillan.


Chapter 1 Introduction: Julia Gillen and Catherine Ann Cameron

Chapter 2 Using video technology: Roger Hancock, Julia Gillen and Giuliana Pinto

Chapter 3 Musicality: Susan Young and Julia Gillen

Chapter 4 Emotional security: Catherine Ann Cameron, Ayshe Talay-Ongan, Roger Hancock, and Sombat Tapanya

Chapter 5 Eating: Julia Gillen and Roger Hancock

Chapter 6 Notational systems: Giuliana Pinto, Beatrice Accorti Gamannossi & Catherine Ann Cameron

Chapter 7 Humour: E. Leslie Cameron, Beatrice Accorti Gamannossi, Julia Gillen and Catherine Ann Cameron

Chapter 8 Conclusions: Catherine Ann Cameron & Julia Gillen

Appendix: Locating the children

The International Journal of Child, Youth and Family Studies calls the book “exciting….thoughtful and innovative”.


Honig, M-S. (2012) Review of International Perspectives on Early Childhood Research: A day in the life. (eds J. Gillen & C.A. Cameron) Childhood 19 (2) 280-282.

Ross, J. (2011) Review Infant and Child Development 20: 347-348.

Robson, S. (2011) Review of International Perspectives on Early Childhood Research: A day in the life. (eds J. Gillen & C.A. Cameron) Early Years: Journal of International Research & Development 31 (1) 101-102.

In 2015 a revised edition was published in Italian:

Gillen, J. and Cameron, C.A. (2015) “Un giorno nella vita” Percosi internationali di ricerca della prima infanzia. Edizione Italiana a cura di Giuliana Pinto e Monica Toselli. Firenze: Seid.

The project also led to another project that developed its methodology in new directions. Susan Young directed MyPlace: MyMusic: an international project to explore everyday music in the home among seven-year-olds in diverse locations, including Brazil, Singapore and Kenya. The key publication from this project is Children’s Home Musical Experiences Across the World, edited by Susan Young and Beatriz Illari, published by Indiana University Press in 2016.



Last updated: 23 October 2017