AJEC 2022: Embracing challenge in early childhood research

It has been a busy and sometimes challenging year for many in the early childhood field. Educators have supported children and families through periods of lockdown, restrictions and uncertainty, while researchers, policy-makers, students and others working in the sector have dealt with all the change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year has also reiterated just how beneficial and fulfilling it is to come together and learn from the multidisciplinary and talented educators, practitioners and researchers who are making a difference to children, families and the early years workforce.

In 2021, the AJEC Research Symposium explored contemporary research in early childhood through a lens of complexity and change, offering insight into how the field is exploring and strengthening practice and policy. It is fitting that the upcoming 2022 Symposium builds on this theme, focusing on embracing challenge in early childhood research. Across four streams, participants will connect with and learn from peers who are exploring multiple pedagogies for play and learning, the future of the early childhood workforce, tackling change with children, families and the workforce, and innovation in theory, methodology and research innovation.

This will be a virtual event. While there are of course advantages to attending in person and being able to catch up with colleagues from across Australia, there are wonderful benefits to the online format also. Importantly, it will make the symposium accessible and inclusive for many who may not have been able to travel to an in-person event. For presenters, this may mean your work and learning can be shared with a more diverse and disperse community. For delegates, it may be easier to connect with speakers and peers, build relationships and share knowledge.

The early childhood sector is filled with important and innovative research that will be captured in presentations and formats designed to help you get the most out of the online environment. In addition to keynote speakers and roundtable discussions, two new formats will be included next year. During symposium presentations, groups of speakers will present a series of papers with thought-provoking commentary, while provocations will offer an opportunity to explore new ideas, methods, ways of thinking about research and impact. Following a short presentation, speakers will pose questions back to the audience. I’m especially looking forward to these sessions. These provocations will be a great way to learn about (and maybe even contribute to!) emerging research, including practitioner research. I am talking with my colleagues who work across different early childhood disciplines, including education, social work, psychology and health about the symposium, encouraging them to come along and take up the opportunity to be immersed in early childhood research.

For me, it’s been a great conference when you leave feeling inspired and energised; it might be an idea that you will take back and apply, or a topic you are excited to learn more about, or a new connection that you plan to reach out to again. These experiences can create ripples that can be the start of more learning and change. I’ve no doubt this will be the case at the 2022 AJEC Research Symposium.

To read more about the 2023 AJEC Research Symposium (9-10 February) and register here.


Claire Blewitt

Dr Claire Blewitt is a Research Fellow in the Health and Social Care Unit in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. Her background in developmental psychology and prior to that, environmental science, has led to an interest in transdisciplinary research. Claire works across education, social care and health to co-design, implement and evaluate approaches that aim to strengthen children’s social and emotional learning and positive mental health.

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