Including young children's voices

How can we listen?

Nov 20, 2019
Growing a mentally healthy learning community needs everyone’s perspective.
 
Your learning community includes educators, children, young people and families. Let’s focus on children. 

To achieve their best possible mental health outcomes, so they can reach their full potential, we can assist children by knowing what promotes their wellbeing. So, how do we find this out? We include their voices. 

Why include children's voices?

They have the right to be heard in decisions affecting their lives (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child UNCRC). Creating an inclusive learning community where everyone feels respected links to Be You’s vision. Protecting children’s rights contributes to their wellbeing. 

As an educator, you’re in a great, while accountable, position to promote empowering environments where each child experiences autonomy and agency. Grounding your Be You Action Planning in children’s voices on wellbeing, helps you respond to national requirements and priorities, i.e. National Quality Standard.
 
When children participate in decision-making, and their ideas inform the pedagogical program, they experience being effective communicators who feel respected and included. 
 
How children express themselves

Children know a great deal about what contributes to their wellbeing, but may be less able to communicate their thoughts and feelings verbally. The Mosaic Approach developed by Peter Moss and Alison Clark in Participatory research with children respects the many nonverbal ways children express themselves, using photo-tours and drawings. Consider using the Always Be You symbols with children to assist in starting a conversation about wellbeing.

Ways of listening to children
  • Observe young children’s behaviour. What might the child be thinking or feeling? Use the BETLS observation tool
  • Storytelling: Reflect about positive and challenging moments. Use Always Be You symbol ‘Be, feel, think, do’
  • Explore wellbeing in play: Get ideas from the Always Be You Action Chart, for example: Give children time to play. Children record and recall their play experiences – stories, photos and drawings
  • Combine drawing and chatting with children about what makes them feel good
  • Photo-tours: Children take photos of their wellbeing places where they feel good or safe
  • Develop a survey with pictures for young children to find out how they are feeling
  • Yarn with children about their rights using the UNCRC’s child-friendly version 
  • Co-create empowering environments for active participation. Learn more here
 
Find out what works best for the children in your Be You Learning Community. 

Share your experiences in one of our National Check-Ins.