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Seeing Children's Ideas About the Environment

by Margie Carter
January/February 2015
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/seeing-childrens-ideas--about-the-environment/5022161/

As Deb Curtis and I were finishing up an all-new edition of our book Designs for Living and Learning, pleased with the new chapters and expanded voices we’d added, suddenly I realized how remiss we’d been, failing to seek ideas from ­children themselves. As today’s citizens, they not only deserve to have a voice, but they have a right to participate in decisions that affect them. We surely should be supporting this right in the environments where they spend their days with us.

In the United States, striving for quality improvement, the early childhood field is focused on assessing and rating environments and interactions, but rarely do we actually explore the children’s ideas on our ‘best practices.’ Is this because it hasn’t occurred to us that their ideas matter or do we feel perplexed about how to get input from children to inform our decisions?

Finding a pathway into children’s thinking is a delicate process for educators, deserving careful planning and reflection. A good place to start is closely observing how children are really using space and materials, where their self-initiation takes them, what they do with different materials, and what they talk about. Remember to pay close attention to the details of ...

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