Contents description

This document presents a description of the two main contents of the Toolbox (Focus Areas and Participation sheets) and offers tips on how to read and interpret them.

Origin, purpose and characteristics of the four Focus Areas

The Focus Areas are thematic and conceptual areas which, grouped together, form a specific articulation of the concept of participation. Each of the four focuses on a specific element of interest in the concept of participation which makes them intrinsically linked, consistent between themselves and, at times, overlapping.
The four Focus Areas have been developed in the framework of the EQUAP project and aim to offer a close representation of the realities of participation in childcare services.
The specific articulation of such concept in four Focus Areas may not be valid for all settings. However, this is the specific articulation of the concept of participation that the EQAUP project has been conceived on. Furthermore, these four Focus Areas are what has led the work (observation and experimentation) of educators and teachers throughout the job shadowing process illustrated in the Toolbox introduction.
The articulation of the concept of participation in four Focus Areas has been identified, circumscribed, negotiated and shared by the project partners who have co-constructed the Toolbox, and it is presented below:

The concept of participation has been split into two dimensions:

  • the participation of families (in the activities of the educational service);
  • the participation of the communities (in the activities of the educational service).

The concept of family participation has in turn been articulated across three Focus areas) expressed by a title and a subtitle:

  • Learning about the family – Knowing and appreciating families and communities
  • Communicating with the family – Sensitive, respectful, and reciprocal communication with families
  • Deciding and acting together with the family – Partnership and sharing of decision-making responsibilities.

The concept of community participation has, been articulated/across two Focus areas:

  • Learning about the family – Knowing and appreciating families and communities
  • Cooperating and collaborating with the community – Sharing educational responsibility with the community.

Focus area 1 – Knowledge is shared through both family and community participation.
Each Focus area was, in turn, articulated into a series of Indicators.

These indicators have been conceived as concrete activities carried out by the working groups.
This means that the indicators are considered operational examples of the concept that gives the name to each Focus Area and this concept is expressed by the title and subtitle.
In addition, each of the four Focus Areas is briefly described and presents a bibliography on the theme, which is inevitably short and restricted to the essential.
Finally, each Focus Area sheet lists a few examples of participation practices – included those tested by the EQUAP and related to the sheet’s specific Focus Area.
These examples are listed in tables, where with ‘source’ describing where the specific participation practice has been observed/learned, and later tested or adapted.


Each Practice sheet is divided into three parts:

  1. A cover (front page) featuring an “overview” of the practice: it includes source (service in which the practice has been observed and service in which it has been tested), focus area, estimated time for implementation, main target group(s)
  2. A description of the practice: which includes a loop chart, describing the phases included in the implementation process; a text listing seven key aspects of the practice.
  3. Development Potential (final page): two sets of questions that are intended to promote reflection among ECEC staff on how to improve their service and the practice.