Children's Participation in Designing Their Learning Environment Ghanimifard, Fatemeh
This paper examines the scholarly literature regarding the early learning physical environment with a focus on how young children can actively participate in designing their learning environment. The physical environment of the learning space is an important component in the quality of children’s early education experience; yet traditionally children have not been involved in its creation. Moreover, the physical environment portrays educational values as well as societal perceptions about the image of the child. After the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1989, a new paradigm emerged in children’s education. Theories advanced by the new sociology of childhood (e.g., James & Prout, 1997) promoted a view of children as active citizens who have valid ideas about our world. This approach emphasized listening to children’s voices as a means for increasing children’s participation in processes that affect their lives. Drawing from these theories, this paper argues that one factor that amplifies children’s competencies and self-worth is the possibility to participate in designing environments that reflect the value of multiple voices and the image of the child as a competent member of society. Based on a literature review, I outline ways in which researchers, architects, and educators have involved children in designing spaces. I then offer early childhood educators points to consider as they move towards including children’s voices in the design of the learning environment.
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