Developing children’s involvement in child focused policies

Project author:

Project summary:

An investigation into how we as a setting can develop children’s involvement in the creation of child-focused and child-led policies and procedures.

Introduction

This project looks at child participation specifically in regard to developing a child-led set of policies, procedures, visions, and values. This project relates to local and national documents such as Realising the Ambition, Child-led Participation a Practitioner’s Guide, the UNCRC, and Froebel’s principles. This enquiry is important as over the last two years we have been unable to fully listen to and allow children to direct many areas within the playroom. This project will aid practitioners to refresh their skills regarding child participation and allow children to be able to share their knowledge and be instrumental in developing the setting’s vision.

Context

As a setting, we are moving to a new post-covid environment where we are striving to redevelop staff and children involved within all areas of nursery life. Over the past two years with various restrictions, there have been limited opportunities to develop child-focused and child-led involvement. We are a Local Authority nursery with 50 3-5yr olds and as a staff, we have previously and are dedicated to developing children’s participation to help develop the opportunities and experiences offered. At the start of this project, children had not been involved in developing policies, procedures, visions, and values within the setting.

This had not been an area that had been considered previously regarding child participation however, when considering Froebel’s principles Tovey (2012) suggested “Freedom for Froebel was about helping children to think for themselves, make choices, solve problems “and the SCMA (2016) sharing “ child participation is one of the core principles that every adult who works with children and young people should respect”. When considering ways in which we could develop children’s participation within our setting, gaining their input in our policies, and procedures seems a sensible way to proceed.

Tovey, H,. (2012), Froebel’s Principles and Practice Today, The Froebel Trust, available at https://www.froebel.org.uk/uploads/documents/FT-Froebels-principles-and-practice-today.pdf [accessed 30th March 2022].

SCMA, (2016), Child-Led Participation – a practitioner’s guide, Scottish Child Minding Association, Falkirk.

Methodology

When introducing this project the initial method used was to review relevant documentation to help develop my own knowledge and understanding regarding child participation and its importance of this. To help share the information gathered with nursery staff, a PowerPoint was developed and presented during a training day. Staff were presented with information and there was ample time to allow group discussion with staff able to share their views and any concerns. During this group discussion, there was general agreement regarding the importance of children’s participation and the staff seemed interested in developing this project.

After the staff’s introduction to the project, a small group of children from my own key group of children were asked if they wished to participate in the development of the first vision (Safe). When considering the ethics of this project written permission was gained from the child’s parents and the children were asked to give their own permission to take part via a visual board. The “experiment” of creating the first vision was recorded in a floorbook after discussion with the children who expressed their views by drawing, writing, and taking photographs. I kept a record of the child’s thoughts which was added to the floorbook later.

“Developing a Froebelian approach takes time. It requires critical reflection, discussion, and a willingness to question taken for granted ideas. In challenging times we need strong advocates for young children, their families, and communities so that together we can work towards shaping a better future.” (Tovey 2020:22)

Findings

During the development of this project, there has been a variety of opportunities to develop not only my own knowledge and understanding but also that of others within the setting. The process of considering an area for development allowed for consideration of wider Froebel principles and relating these to our setting.

The ability to review relevant documents both locally and nationally has allowed staff to revisit and refresh their understanding. This also provided an opportunity for sharing their thoughts and feeling regarding developing child-led policies. Generally, staff were interested in and supported this project and believes in the importance of child participation in all areas of the nursery.

When implementing the development of policies, visions, and values the children were keen to be involved and they were able to share a lot of information regarding the first value – Safe. The children’s thoughts and images were recorded in a floorbook that will be added to and revisited over time. The children were able to share how to stay safe (both inside and outside) with ample time given for children to write, draw and take photographs to support their thoughts. Allowing the children to discuss and share their thoughts freely with no time constraints was beneficial to gaining a wide range of information. Children were and are able to return to the floor book and add more information as they wished.

Initially, the children involved were from one Keyworker group but moving forward the opportunity to take part will be open to all children. The practitioner responsible for the first value was me, however, the long-term plan is for each practitioner to help develop the policies, procedures, visions, and values that they have a specific interest in or that they feel are relevant to the children’s interests. The next value (Healthy) will be discussed with the children by myself and one other practitioner so that we can share and develop a robust method for gathering children’s thoughts which will in turn help to provide understanding on how we as a setting and as practitioners provide opportunities, experiences, and care that is appropriate to all.

Conclusion

The development of this project allowed for children’s voices to be heard with regards to the policies, procedures, visions and values of the setting. The children were keen to share their thoughts with this allowing all those involved to help develop the setting to support children’s views, concerns and knowledge. For staff this project allowed the opportunity for to revisit practise that has been limited due to the covid restrictions. Allowing children to take ownership and the ability to direct the development of child-led policies, procedures, visions and values will hopefully aid the children feeling valued as part of the nursery.

SAFE

“we hold hands”
“wear a hi-viz vest”
‘walk carefully up the stairs”

 

Dissemination/Impact Report

To ensure the continuing development of this project in the future, all Nursery staff have been included and informed throughout this project’s development.  During Team Meetings the Children’s Policies and Procedures Floorbook has been discussed with staff encouraged to add to the book to develop a wide and varied range of child-led policies.

 

Parents have been informed about the development of the project and will continue to be kept up to date via the monthly Newsletters. Similarly, the  floorbook is available for parents to view at drop-off, pick-up, stay and play sessions and nursery open days.

 

The information regarding the development and implementation of the project will also be included for any new parents via the information pack and the induction presentation

 

The implementation and development of this project have and will allow the children the ability to express their thoughts and views regarding the nursery.  Children’s views are respected and they are able to express themselves in a manner that suits them.   Capturing the views of the children has helped staff gain a greater understanding on how children view the opportunities and routines of the nursery.

Research implications

To be completed

Practitioner enquiry

To be completed

Leadership learning

To be completed

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Fiona Ferguson
    Fiona Ferguson
    25 May 2022 at 2:45 pm

    I love this project idea. One area we have been discussing is how to involve children more in policy making and this project shows a simple solution that is robust and fully involves children in all aspects. We will certainly be looking to take forward your ideas in my centre. Well done


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  2. Alison Hawkins
    26 May 2022 at 2:40 pm

    I enjoyed reading about these Froebelian journeys – both that of the practitioner-researcher and the ideas written in the leadership report too. Clearly this appears to be an ongoing piece of research looking at important areas of children’s involvement and how their voices might be heard, and how their opinions might help form policy. The access to a floor book for children to add their thoughts (expressed in various ways) subsequent to the initial conversations indicates staff are listening and hearing – GREAT! I look forward to learning more about the research as it unfolds in the future.


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  3. Jacqueline Stewart
    Jacqueline Stewart
    30 May 2022 at 11:07 am

    I enjoyed reading your project, we as a setting are looking at ways to encourage children’s voice and how we record it.


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  4. Jean Aitken
    Jean Aitken
    12 Jun 2023 at 10:09 am

    This is an area that I want to take forward in our setting. Reading your report has sparked ideas on how to do this. Thank you.
    Well done


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