DOI: 10.3390/socsci13010009 ISSN: 2076-0760

Child-Led Research with Young Children: Challenging the Ways to Do Research

E. Kay M. Tisdall, Emma Clarkson, Lynn J. McNair
  • General Social Sciences

Child-led research is gaining increasing attention. Such research involves children leading throughout the research process, from research design to dissemination. Child-led research has tested adult-centric research assumptions, with debates in the literature about researchers’ expertise and responsibilities. If these debates are testing for child-led research undertaken with older children and young people, they are even more so for young children below school-starting age. This article examines child-led research undertaken in a Froebelian early years setting, over 11 months, with 36 children aged between 2 and 5 years, from the adult facilitators’ perspectives. The article utilises the research’s documentation, including mind maps, photographs and story books, songs and video recordings, and an interview undertaken with the facilitating early years practitioner and supporting academic. Learning from this, the article challenges the assumption, in much of the literature on child-led research, that adults need to transmit their knowledge of research methods to children. Instead, a ‘slow pedagogy’ can build on children’s own knowledge, collectively, with time to come to research understandings. The article concludes that child-led research is feasible with young children, but the research process can include or exclude certain forms of children’s communication, making some children more ‘competent’ to undertake research than others.

More from our Archive