The article discusses how the use of ethnographic approaches to the study of researcher-child relations highlights the importance of structures that shape and define children's actions. The discussion is illustrated by using case study material from research with pre-school and pre-adolescent children in Indian educational settings. The article argues that whilst an ethnographic approach to understanding children can shed light upon how childhood as a structural classification of society, and in particular Indian society, is governed by its relationship with the adult world; attempts to provide explanations of childhood as a structural feature, necessitate an account of the age of children as a structural condition. Children's relationships with the adult world are quite different at different ages. This has implications for the educational ethnographer when attempting to gather data that provide understandings of children's social actions.