Listen to the experts

aying attention to what young children have to say about their perspectives and experiences is an important part of teaching and learning, but this can be difficult to do in a busy classroom. A framework called the Mosaic approach allows children to be treated as "experts in their own lives" and to demonstrate their varied communication skills.

In the Mosaic project, three and four-year-olds were given cameras to take photographs of things and people that were important to them in their nursery. They also made maps based on their photographs and drawings to show their favourite places and activities.

The issues that most concerned them, as revealed in their pictures and photos, were friends and changing relationships, including those with adults, preferred spaces, conflict and how it is dealt with by adults, and their feelings about the past and the future. The researchers conclude that if active listening to young children using this framework is to take place, nurseries and schools need to:

*establish a climate in which children's opinions are valued;

*train staff to use a variety of tools to facilitate their understanding of children's perceptions;

*build in non-contact time to reflect and act on children's views and experiences;

*communicate reflectively with children, parents and other practitioners.

Listening to Young Children: the Mosaic Approach by Alison Clark and Peter Moss, published by the National Children's Bureau, pound;11.99. Call 020 7843 6000

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