Category Children’s Spaces

Stages in the Mosaic approach

The first stage is where children and adults gather the documentation; the second stage is piecing together information for dialogue, reflection and interpretation.

The focus in stage one is gathering information led by the children using the tools described above. Each tool can be used in isolation. However the strength of this approach is in drawing together the different methodologies through discussion. Stage two focuses on this interpretation: staff and parents now listen to the children’s own perspectives. This use of documentation has drawn on the process developed in the pre-schools of Reggio Emilia, which Rinaldi has described as ‘visible listening’. Listening is not limited to a two-way conversation between one adult and a child...


The Study

The study took place between January 1999 and June 2000 at an early childhood institution, which was part of a multi-agency childcare network or community campus.6 This exploratory study on listening to young children was part of a wider evaluation of the campus, which includes an early childhood centre, a parents’ centre and a homeless families project. The main focus of the study was two key groups within the early childhood centre: children aged 3-4 years in the kindergarten and children under two in the nursery. Pilot work was carried out with refugee children attending the homeless families project. I will explore here the research carried out with a group of eight children in the kindergarten group. The children used the term ‘nursery’ to refer to their institution...


Theoretical underpinnings of the participatory approach

There were three main theoretical starting points for this research approach, each based on notions of competency. Firstly, I acknowledged the importance of the ideas expressed in the emerging
sociology of childhood. This supports the view of children as ‘beings not becomings’. In other words, their views are not to be ignored because of their status as young people subservient to adult carers. Rather they are to be valued and listened to as authentic individuals in their own right functioning within a democratic community.

Childhood is viewed as one of a number of authentic structures within society, as quoted from Qvortrup et al.3 ‘…children have their own activities and their own time and their own space’...


Talking and listening to children

Alison Clark

Editor’s introduction

‘In my cave listening to music. It’s magic music

from my magic radio.’

This was one response from 3-year-old Gary about his favourite place in the nursery. The statement was one of many insights given by a group of young children, about their views and experiences of everyday life in their early childhood institution. It was recorded during a recent research project implemented by the author.

There is an increasing interest in listening to children and the importance of children’s participation when making important decisions about their lives. Central to this is the need for children’s views to be heard regarding the form and shape of their own physical world...


Metaphors for play: innovation and risk

Ten years ago I visited an exciting new children’s daycare centre in Souest, Netherlands. I observed that if children were allowed, they would spend as much time as they could outdoors, in any kind of weather. I noticed that in this particular setting, even when children were not allowed to go outdoors, they still sought to utilize the whole of the interior environment. They would, if permitted, explore linen cupboards, climb stairs (or any type of feature which enabled this to occur), set up games in corners and niche areas, and mount stairs to access high level walkways. All of these features were fundamental to the architectural experience at Souest. This determination to explore is, I surmized, an essential ingredient for learning and healthy social development.

What this design succ...


Education in the UK: small is beautiful

In the UK, daycare remains the preserve of two social types, each at opposite ends of the wealth divide. Firstly, for the children of relatively well-to – do working parents who can afford to pay for private and very expensive daycare; secondly, it is reserved for children of the non-working poor, who benefit from free daycare through services like Sure Start, who provide targeted, fully subsidized family provision directed towards the poorest communities in Britain.

Daycare is not available for the majority of lower to middle class children simply because it is unaffordable.3 Parents of these children continue to go out to work...


The chapters

Childhood is sometimes described as a state of mind. It is also a distinct physical and mental phase which is experienced between ages one and a half to 16. Although it is debatable when childhood actually ceases and adulthood becomes a reality, for the purposes of this collection, our definition of childhood is broadly determined by these age criteria. Within this framework three sections emerge which order the chapters in this book: firstly, the child in early years; secondly, the child in school; and thirdly, the child in the city. Each theme is linked and interconnected, with the chapters ordered chronologically and loosely linked by a thematic narrative.

Chapter 1 is an introduction to some of the main issues around listening to young children in an effort to take on board their views...


Children’s Spaces

This is a book about children, for children. However, I suspect it will not be read by many children. Rather, it attempts to provide a framework, a forum within which their views and sensibilities may be better interpreted by adult voices. By encouraging them to describe their worlds in relation to the physical spaces within which they spend much of their time, we can see and understand more clearly their child-centric view.

I have therefore invited people to contribute chapters on the basis of their work as designers of children’s spaces or in the context of their academic work in the area of contemporary childhood studies...