Children have the right to participate in all matters affecting them, freely expressing their views and having them respected and considered. Young children’s participation is key to developing a culture of human rights, democracy, and rule of law. Therefore, young people’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 (ECE) remains a challenge. To support high-quality ECE through the implementation of children’s right to participate, we propose a multilevel professional development approach.
We aim to strengthen ECE teachers, assistants, and coordinators/managers’:
- knowledge on children’s right to participate
- positive attitudes regarding the design, implementation, and monitoring of practices that promote children’s participation
- ability to identify, design, implement, and monitor practices that enhance children’s right to participate; and
- ability to work together, at multiple levels of the ECE centre, to identify, use, and sustain the individual and organizational resources needed to increase children’s participation.
To reach these goals, we will develop three independent but complementary professional development resources:
- a Massive Open Online Course on children’s right to participate in ECE, targeting teachers, assistants, and coordinators/managers;
- a self-assessment tool designed to support teachers and assistants in delivering high-quality ECE through participatory practices at the classroom level; and
- a self-assessment tool designed to support coordinators/managers in enhancing participatory practices based on organizational resources and supports.
We will examine the feasibility of this toolkit, gathering input from end users to inform its iterative development.
Project activities will involve three types of participants: ECE teachers, ECE teacher assistants, and ECE staff with leadership roles. A minimum of 60 ECE professionals, across four countries (Belgium, Greece, Poland, and Portugal), will participate in focus groups to inform Intellectual Outputs’ design and content, building on expertise from the field. Further, a minimum of 120 ECE professionals, from a minimum of 40 ECE centres across the four countries, will participate in the feasibility analysis of the toolkit. Ultimately, we expect that a minimum of 1000 ECE professionals use the final versions of the toolkit upon project completion, across participating countries.
Major project activities include:
- focus groups with ECE teachers, assistants, and coordinators/managers
- preparation of preliminary, beta, and final versions of the learning, reflection, and self-assessment tools designed to support ECE professionals
- implementation of the tools by ECE centres and professionals in all participating countries and
- use of questionnaires, interviews, and classroom observations to document the feasibility of the professional development tools.