Engaging children's perspectives in wellbeing pedagogy
Adults may not truly understand children’s wellbeing needs beyond the observed, unless children are involved in the identification of the issues and proposed solutions. Through the enactment of strategy underpinned by a philosophy of Voice Inclusive Practice, this project sought to examine the utility of student consultation in school-based wellbeing pedagogy.
What is Voice Inclusive Practice (VIP)?
VIP entails the adoption of inclusive participatory engagement practices that respond to all stakeholder perspectives – especially children. It also ensures that activities, services and decision-making, actively consider children’s perspectives and their input and is informed by ongoing and open dialogue.. The key objective of VIP is to actively seek and incorporate children’s perspectives relating to their own wellbeing, so that responses and support are appropriate.
Through a series of small focus group sessions and open-ended questionnaires, this project used wellbeing as a reference point to engage with pre-adolescent children on contemporary issues related to their lives. The project was conducted in two stages. First, the research team consulted with children to identify how they conceptualised and defined wellbeing. The team then used child-centred research methods to enable the children to generate their own research questions and conduct their own research on the aspects of wellbeing that were of direct importance to them and their peers.
What did we learn?
The participating children were able to offer many insights and their eagerness to consult revealed the significance of Voice Inclusive Practice for teachers, schools, students, and researchers, in more ways than originally anticipated. For example, the children highlighted the opportunity to engage with peers outside of their regular class. Of particular interest was the children’s focus on awareness raising of issues, and their emphasis on the importance of a community working together to address identified issues in the future.
The research team is currently developing a larger project that includes other areas and schooling types, in addition to expanding the role of school-based adult participants.
Funding / Grants
- Brisbane Catholic Education