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Policy Brief: PARTICIPA project

Promoting children’s participation: Tools for Early Childhood Education and Care professionals


Summary

As part of children’s rights, children’s participation is key to developing a culture of human rights, democracy, and rule of law. However, its implementation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) remains a challenge. The PARTICIPA project – Professional development tools supporting participation rights in early childhood education – aimed to tackle this by creating tools for supporting ECEC professionals (teachers, assistants, and coordinators) in the promotion of children’s participation both at the classroom and the center level. The tools provided by the project were developed to improve professionals’ knowledge, attitudes, and competences regarding children participation and were based on Lundy’s model of children’s participation. The tools were continuously improved based on qualitative data collected with ECEC professionals, and preliminary data of a feasibility study suggests that the tools have a positive effect on professionals’ beliefs, attitudes, and practices related to children participation and may contribute to mitigate seasonal variations in process quality, throughout the school year.


 

Introduction

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations General Assembly, 1989) establishes the right of all children to be heard and to have their views taken seriously in accordance with their age and maturity (Article 12). Because children’s participation is key to developing a culture of human rights, democracy, and rule of law, young children’s active participation and decision-making in society must be protected and encouraged from an early age. Even though children’s right to participate is key to education quality, its implementation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings remains a challenge. PARTICIPA is an Erasmus+ funded project developed by a consortium composed of ISCTE – University Institute of Lisbon, the Hellenic Open University, Odisee, University of Warsaw, Polytechnic Institute of Porto, and APEI. The PARTICIPA project used a multilevel professional development approach aiming to support ECEC professionals in providing high-quality ECEC, by strengthening their knowledge, attitudes, and competences to engage in constructive team work towards developing, implementing, and monitoring young children's participation in ECEC classrooms and centers. Between 2019 and 2022, the project worked with ECEC professionals in four different countries (Belgium, Greece, Poland, and Portugal) to develop tools that help promoting children’s participation in the classroom. In addition to ECEC teachers, PARTICIPA targeted ECEC assistants and ECEC professionals in leadership roles (coordinators), typically overlooked in professional development initiatives and resources. To achieve this, the project team based their views in a theoretical model specifically developed for children’s participation, and results seem promising.

Approach and Results

Conclusion

Implications and Recommendations

1-page summary of the project

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