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Young Children's Voices

Introduction to Young Children's Voices

Listening to young children’s voice is critical for realising their right to be heard and input into matters affecting them.

While very young children are often left out of debates that concern them, young children living in poverty, those with additional support needs or from underrepresented backgrounds are even more marginalised. Particular attention must be paid to eliciting and duly considering their voices.

There are significant consequences when their voices are not heard. The early years are the most critical time for development, and if young children do not have a voice during this period it can put their health and wellbeing at risk.

The content is split into sections below in PDF format with a 'full read' section at the bottom of the page.

Definition

Child Participation & Practice Practice Standards

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All children have a voice from birth, are capable of expressing themselves in a range of ways, and have a right to be listened to.
 

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Child voice and participation is central to Save the Children’s work. The seven practice standards ensure ethical, relevant and meaningful participation.

Importance of Young Children's Voice

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Listening to all children is foundational to realising children’s rights, but often babies and young children’s voices are not heard.

Benefits of listening to young children's voice

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Listening to young children benefits both the child and the listening adults directly and indirectly, as well as policy and practice. It can create a culture of listening to babies and young children.

Common Challenges

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While listening to babies and young children is important and has many benefits, there are a number of practical, cultural and systemic challenges.

Ethical Considerations

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Listening to babies and young children requires consideration of ethical questions. There may be times when the risks or disadvantages of this work outweigh the potential benefits.

Key Evidence from across the UK

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More about initiatives, network and tools within the UK that support and promote babies’ and young children’s voice in settings and Early Years Practice, as well as examples of good practice.

Gaps in the Evidence

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Gaps in current evidence, especially in relation to children and families living in poverty, the role of parents, and how listening to babies and young children can positively impact on early learning.

Principles and Core Elements for Best Practice

Resources within the UK

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Useful principles and core elements for best practice when engaging in babies’ and young children’s voice work. They ensure an ethical and empowering approach.

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Useful and practical resources developed by leading organisations and academics which can be used to implement babies’ and young children’s voice work. 

Key Messages

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Useful principles and core elements for best practice when engaging in babies’ and young children’s voice work. They ensure an ethical and empowering approach.

Key Questions to ask

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Useful and practical resources developed by leading organisations and academics which can be used to implement babies’ and young children’s voice work. 

What Next?