So, we have made it to the end of the summer term, and it is my favourite term in education, not only because the weather is nicer, and children can spend so much time outside but is the term you get to really see the children blossom. Your provision will look quite different in the summer term to how it looked in the autumn term, because your children are now confident and capable in their surroundings. All the skills you have been embedding and teaching often come to fruition in the summer term. The children can display their independence skills as well as those other skills we have been supported them to acquire like perseverance, curiosity, and communication.
The rights of the child tell us that children have the right to have their voices heard. The children are often their most confident in the summer term, so this makes it the ideal time to ask them to give you feedback on their experiences in your provision and routines of the day.
Ask the children what they have enjoyed, what they struggled with. What would they like to tell the next cohort of children joining the setting or class?
In a previous role as the Under Fives Participation Officer, I conducted many consultations with young children. It was during one of these consultations, a child confidently stated that they “hate the carpet, it ruins my life.” Strong feelings for a young child, and this view was shared by many children across a variety of settings, albeit not so strongly!
When we gather a child’s voice, we need to acknowledge it and consider what the child is telling us and how we can we make the carpet session a place of excitement and joy for children.
Are there any times in your routine that your children have an opportunity give you feedback? what have you done when hearing or observing their views?
How often are you listening to the children to influence the provision you provide? We must remind ourselves that true consultation is more than “they asked for the dinosaurs, so we put them out.”
We should empower the children to have their own ideas, thoughts and allowing children to plan, problem solve, and experiment. Observing the mastering of these skills in children is one of my favourite things to see in early years children. The pride they exude when they have been trusted with the responsibility to lead on something or work together with others is so powerful in their journey to becoming confident competent learners.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) supports this when it tells us in article 12 and 13 that children have a right to be heard and to express their views and thoughts.
The British Values in Early Years also advise us to model democracy in action, support children in making decisions together as well as encouraging liberty and freedom for all. How are you empowering children to have a voice and use their voice in your setting and in their interactions with others?
With all this in mind, I wanted to offer some reflection prompts to help you consider the ways in which you gather the children’s views, thoughts, and ideas. Building on those developing skills as competent learners that want to investigate and find out more about the world and others in it.
- How often can children make decision and form their own ideas? How do we ensure all the children get this opportunity?
- Do children have regular opportunities to share their ideas, likes and dislikes?
- In what ways do you demonstrate to children that their views and thoughts are important to you?
- Does the setting/ class create a sense of belonging for all children?
- How are you using what children communicate to you to create provision that supports every child’s interest, and learning?
- How often do children get opportunities to work together and communicate directly with each other?
If this blog has sparked an interest in listening and consulting with your early years children and you would like to find out more about the variety of ways, we can consult with young children. You can access the Hertfordshire participation toolkit to support your journey.