It's taken a while for the idea that listening to and involving very young children to shape and develop the services we offer them is not only possible but it's a very good thing!
This was helped by the Children's Act 2006, which placed a statutory duty on local authorities to take children's views of the services they receive on board.
The Early Childhood Unit (part of National Children's Bureau) has put together a list of articles, books and publications which explore how the thinking and practice of early years participation has developed over the last decade.
Here's a few free ones which we recommend.
Eight leaflets in the series written by a number of experts in the field, each containing details of research, practice and methods that work with young children from birth to eight. Subjects range from supporting parents & carers to listen, to listening about food to developing a listening culture.
A tool for practitioners working with 0 – 5s built around the EYFS principles as well as Hear by Right participation standards. Free to download or £8 for hard copies.
Exploring the field of listening to and consulting with young children (Clark, McQuail and Moss, 2003)
Don't be put off by the length! Start with something manageable like the Introduction, Case studies (ranging from a playgroup to Children's Centre to school setting) or Key Themes.
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Enshrined in law
The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child (1989) states that children and young people have a right to have a say in things that affect them (Arts 12 & 13) and we need to support them to do so (Art 42).
Under the Childcare Act 2004 (amended 2006) local authorities have a duty to listen to the voices of children and young people who they provide services to.
It's good to talk
A handy booklet giving ideas on about how you can use processes like recruitment and selection, induction, appraisal and training for staff and volunteers in your project to improve communication with children. There's also links to learning from others' participation experience in Early Years settings.