25 SES 10, Children’s Rights in Early Childhood Settings
The aim of this paper is, through an empirical research study, to focus on how to involve children in research and developing processes. The paper will present and discuss a case study involving four groups of children at the ages of three to five years. The case is part of a larger participatory research study investigating learning environments in Danish preschools.
Due to a European focus on effective preschool practice, many preschools have been enrolled in educational programmes and projects aiming to develop more effective and high quality practice. In most of these projects the focus for development is the pedagogical staff, though both The Conventions on Children’s Rights and The Danish Act on Daycare highlights children’s involvement in daily life as a right and as a vital part of a democratic learning environment.
(4). Day-care facilities shall give children co-determination, co-responsibility and an understanding of democracy. (Danish Act on Daycare. ACT no. 501 of June 6, 2007)
From the outset this research project has sought to question the fact that, in spite of the obligation of preschools to give children the right of co-determination, children are rarely involved and given a voice in the development processes of care and education in preschools. Therefore this paper is centered on the following questions;
- How can researchers, the pedagogical staff and children collaborate in participatory research?
- What happens when we involve children and ask them to participate in daily life decision-making and development processes of preschool learning environments?
- ’What considerations must be taken into account by researchers in connection with involving children
The aim of
the overall research project is to investigate how preschools can develop and offer high quality-learning environments for all children. The purpose is to develop knowledge and methods that will qualify preschool teachers’ competence in offering high quality care and learning environments with a focus on children’s learning potentials. In the research project, we investigate different types of learning environments, but in this paper we present a specific empirical case where researchers, pedagogical staff and children collaborated on how to develop lunch as a high quality learning environment. Our theoretical approach to learning is interactionist theory (Mead, Blumer, Bruner and Wenger), and therefore in this paper ‘high quality learning environment’ refers to a learning environment that is capable of providing access to participation for each individual child, challenging the present zone of knowledge and offering a community of learning and social interactions.
In the empirical case, the research object was a study of lunchtime. The aim was to understand and develop lunchtime as more than just eating a meal. To study the daycare lunchtime the children were enrolled as co-researchers. As well as having little knowledge on how children experience their learning environments, we also were in need of methods to involve children in these processes. Therefore, the methodological perspective on how to carry out the involvement process and the ethical considerations in these processes became a vital part of the research study. In this paper, we analyze and discuss the openings, opportunities, obligations and considerations of the involvement process. The point of departure will be the specific case study, but throughout the paper we open our questions toward a more general focus on the involvement process of children in research and development processes as a window of knowledge on children’s perspectives on daily life, including the learning environments. We will also discuss how it affected the pedagogical staff to listen to the children, and how the staff reacted and changed their procedures and preschool practice.
Almqvist, Anna-Lena and Lena Almqvist (2014): Making oneself heard – children’s experiences of empowerment in Swedish preschools. Early Child Development and Care, Routledge. Published online: July 24, 2014. Blumer, H. (1986): Symbolic Interactionism. University of California Press. Bruner, J. (1998): Uddannelseskulturen. Socialpædagogisk bibliotek, Munksgaard Bruner, J. (1985): “Vygostky, A Historical and Conceptual Perspective”. In Wertsch (Ed). Culture, Communication and Cognition, Vygotskian perspectives. Cambridge University Press. Børnerådet (2011). Regler og medbestemmelse i børnehaven. Minibørnepanelet. Clark, Alison (2005). Listening to and involving young children: a review of research and practice. Early Childhood Development and Care, 175:6, pp. 489-505. Routledge. Clark, Alison (2011). Ways of seeing: Using the Mosaic approach to listen to young children’s perspectives. www.sagepub.com. Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF Danish Act on Daycare. ACT no. 501 of June 6, 2007 Emilson, Anette & Eva Johansson (2013). Participation and gender in circle-time situations in preschool. International Journal of Early Years Education, 21:1, pp. 56-69. Routledge. Garbarino, James et al. (1992). Children in Danger. Coping with the consequences of community violence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. Goffman, E. (1967/2001): Anstalt og menneske – den totale institution socialt set. Saxo. Gulbrandsen, Liv Mette (ed.) (2014). Børns deltakelse i hverdagsliv og professionelle praksis- en udforskende tilnærming. Universitetsforlaget AS. Oslo. Hart, R. A. (1992). Children’s Participation, From Tokenism to Citizenship. Unicef. Johansson, Eva (2003). ”Att närma sig barns perspektiv- forskares och pedagogers möten med barns perspektiv”. Pedagogisk Forskning i Sverige 2003, årgang 8 nr. 1-2, pp. 42-57. Johansson, Barbro & MariAnne Karlsson (red). (2013). Att involvere barn i forskning och utveckling. Studentlitteratur. Lund. Jungk, Robert (1998) Håndbog i fremtidsværksteder. Politisk Revy. Kornerup, Ida & Mimi Petersen (2014). Børns rettigheder og medborgerskabs- dannelse. In Kornerup, I. & Næsby, T. (eds.): Pædagogens grundfaglighed. Grundbog til pædagoguddannelsen. Frederikshavn: Dafolo Forlag. Petersen, Mimi (to be published in February 2015). Sikkerhed i centrum - Undersøgelse af Roskilde Kommunes arbejde med sikkerhedsplaner som foranstaltning for udsatte børn og familier i 2011-2014. Powell, Mary Ann & Anne B. Smith (2009). Children’s Participation Right in Research. Sage. http://www.sagepublications.com Udenrigsministeriet (1992): Bekendtgørelse af FN-konvention af 20. november 1989 om Barnets Rettigheder. (FN’s Børnekonvention). BKI nr. 5 af den 16. januar 1992. Udenrigsministeriet. Warming, H. (2011): Børneperspektiver. Børn som ligeværdige medspillere i socialt og pædagogisk arbejde. København: Akademisk Forlag. Warming, H. (2013). Børneperspektiver: Børn som ligeværdige medspillere i socialt og pædagogisk arbejde. København: Akademisk Forlag.
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