aiming to contribute to the current and intense process of revision of conceptions and educational practices mediating learning and development of young children in day care centers and pre-schools, and based on our research experiences at cindedi, this paper approaches several questions which, in our view, are relevant for the understanding of collective education. how does developmental research contribute to this discussion? what conceptions about development is it based on? which methodological perspectives are more promising for the comprehension of the ways children and their teachers act and change with their experiences? how to understand notions such as developmental stages, teachers’ role in the learning process, factors explaining infant development and developmental evaluations in infancy? both family and childcare professionals interact with the child and organize his/her environment according to their expectations about his/her development and their own role in this process. these expectations are built through their life experiences in their particular culture. many expectations, beliefs and psychological theories have, thus, a strong self-fulfilling power, helping to build competencies and deficiencies. children and the professional staff of child education institutions have undoubtedly much to gain from reflecting on these questions.