Research Topic

The role of risk-taking and mistakes in early childhood learning and teaching

About this Research Topic

A wealth of research has investigated the benefits, challenges, and practices of early childhood pedagogies that promote student agency and self-directed learning through play, making, STEAM, and other constructivist and experiential instructional approaches. At the center of these learning and teaching experiences is the openness to taking risks and engaging with mistakes in meaningful ways. There are great advantages to centering trial-and-error practice and corrective feedback as a central feature of learning (Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Winstone et al., 2017). Furthermore, attitudes and practices related to mistakes vary from country to country (Soncini et al., 2020) and across school settings (Denervaud et al., 2020; Donaldson, 2021), and thus, it is important to consider a wide range of perspectives and look closely at different contexts when exploring risk-taking and mistakes in early childhood teaching and learning.

Despite existing evidence of the value of risk-taking and mistakes in learning, there is still much to learn about how teachers and students experience and interpret mistakes in real time and in day-to-day early childhood educational interactions, the practices that create the conditions that make risk-taking safe and valuable for children and adults, and the broader structural factors that determine the role of mistakes and iteration in everyday learning and teaching. In this Research Topic, we aim to create a collection of research that explores the role and experience of risk-taking and learning from mistakes in early childhood settings, addresses the complex dynamics and interactions that contribute to or hinder the development of a culture that promotes taking risks, and provides insights into how understanding and leveraging mistakes can lead to deeper learning for children and more meaningful teaching experiences for adults.

We invite interdisciplinary authors using a variety of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods approaches to explore the cognitive, social-emotional, and physiological experiences of mistakes and risk-taking in a variety of early childhood settings, broadly defined, including classrooms and schools, museums, play settings, informal learning environments, and homes. We welcome a wide range of study designs that may include: ethnographic accounts of life immersed in specific settings; naturalistic observations; interview studies; intervention and design-based studies; autoethnographies of educators, caregivers, and other adults who engage with young children; case studies; analyses of video-recorded events or interactions; neuroimaging studies; and cross-cultural or cross-context comparisons. We invite authors to explore the sociocultural, environmental, and structural conditions that influence the reactions and practices around risk-taking and mistakes.


Keywords: Risk-taking, mistakes, early childhood, learning, teaching


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

A wealth of research has investigated the benefits, challenges, and practices of early childhood pedagogies that promote student agency and self-directed learning through play, making, STEAM, and other constructivist and experiential instructional approaches. At the center of these learning and teaching experiences is the openness to taking risks and engaging with mistakes in meaningful ways. There are great advantages to centering trial-and-error practice and corrective feedback as a central feature of learning (Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Winstone et al., 2017). Furthermore, attitudes and practices related to mistakes vary from country to country (Soncini et al., 2020) and across school settings (Denervaud et al., 2020; Donaldson, 2021), and thus, it is important to consider a wide range of perspectives and look closely at different contexts when exploring risk-taking and mistakes in early childhood teaching and learning.

Despite existing evidence of the value of risk-taking and mistakes in learning, there is still much to learn about how teachers and students experience and interpret mistakes in real time and in day-to-day early childhood educational interactions, the practices that create the conditions that make risk-taking safe and valuable for children and adults, and the broader structural factors that determine the role of mistakes and iteration in everyday learning and teaching. In this Research Topic, we aim to create a collection of research that explores the role and experience of risk-taking and learning from mistakes in early childhood settings, addresses the complex dynamics and interactions that contribute to or hinder the development of a culture that promotes taking risks, and provides insights into how understanding and leveraging mistakes can lead to deeper learning for children and more meaningful teaching experiences for adults.

We invite interdisciplinary authors using a variety of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods approaches to explore the cognitive, social-emotional, and physiological experiences of mistakes and risk-taking in a variety of early childhood settings, broadly defined, including classrooms and schools, museums, play settings, informal learning environments, and homes. We welcome a wide range of study designs that may include: ethnographic accounts of life immersed in specific settings; naturalistic observations; interview studies; intervention and design-based studies; autoethnographies of educators, caregivers, and other adults who engage with young children; case studies; analyses of video-recorded events or interactions; neuroimaging studies; and cross-cultural or cross-context comparisons. We invite authors to explore the sociocultural, environmental, and structural conditions that influence the reactions and practices around risk-taking and mistakes.


Keywords: Risk-taking, mistakes, early childhood, learning, teaching


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Abstract
31 January 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

30 September 2021 Abstract
31 January 2022 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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