Presentation - ECV2022-233
Background: Although the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) was ratified to protect and promote the human rights of children, it has also been critiqued for its universality and lack of explication on how it can apply diversely and at a local level (Davies, 2014). Despite this, there is a growing literature which promotes and documents children’s own engagement with rights frameworks. By using a child rights theoretical framework, I sought to understand how young children define their own education and participatory rights (Lundy & McEvoy, 2011, 2012). In turn, I analysed these definitions as to how they could contribute to the principles for the future development of a child rights-based approach to education for sustainable development in early childhood.
Aim: The research aimed to explore with young children, their own perspectives of nature under Article 29 1 (e) of the UNCRC, which stipulates that children’s education shall be directed to developing a respect for the natural environment.
Method: Grounded in a child rights-based, participatory methodological paradigm, methods using nature based activities were designed with the support of a children’s research advisory group (CRAG) (n = 7) (3–5yrs) (Lundy & McEvoy, 2011, 2012). They were subsequently used with a second group of participants (n = 9) (2–3yrs) for data collection.
Results: Children define their own relationship with nature and make their own connections with it. In claiming their right to education about nature, they establish their own definitions of participation.
Conclusions: Children should be partners in creating education curricula aimed at developing respect for the environment. Furthermore, the research responded to Robson’s (2016) and Lundy and Martinez Sainz’s (2018) call for a less ‘top down’, policy-to-practice approach to children’s rights and for greater attention to children’s living realities. Finally, the study also provides insight into how young children can contribute to developing a rights-based research methodology.
Implications for children and families: You have a right to share your ideas on how you enjoy learning about nature and to have those ideas heard.
Implications for practitioners: Listening to children’s ideas, responding to them respectfully and using them as a basis to develop a respect for the natural environment can support you in promoting a child rights-based approach to education for sustainable development in your everyday practice.
Funding: Irish Research Council
Key words: child rights, children’s voice, education, sustainability, participation, early childhood, policy, rights-based research, qualitative methods,theory
This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: