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Hearing the Voice of the Child

Establishing the child’s perspective

As early years educators, there needs to be a focus on how children share their thoughts and feelings and whether we are making space to listen. In what ways can we create practical opportunities to establish the child’s perspective? And how might this information create a bigger picture of the lived experience for a child and what it’s like for them within an early years setting

In Listening to young children: the mosaic approach, Alison Clark and Peter Moss (2021) developed a method for listening to children that they call the ‘mosaic approach’. This approach was developed during a research study to include the ‘voice of the child’ in multiagency practice of services for children and families.

Clark and Moss spent time observing children and talking to them about what it was like for them at their setting. They also used digital photography, asking children to take pictures of what was important to them. They also spoke with parents, carers and educators to build up a larger ‘mosaic’ image of a child’s experience. This information can then be used to influence change within a setting to help support children better and respond to their individual needs.

Barriers to hearing the child’s voice 
A multi-layered approach to listening to children and hearing their voices is essential. It is important that educators themselves do not create barriers to hearing the voice of the child by making assumptions about what children can and cannot do. Listening to young children can’t be rushed, time needs to be spent observing and understanding each unique child in our care.  

<undefined>Clark, A & Stratham, J (2005) Adoption & Fostering Volume 29</undefined>

Clark, A & Stratham, J (2005) Adoption & Fostering Volume 29


Reflection is key to considering how best to listen to young children and how this might support their social and emotional development. Start with these reflective questions:

  • Are all children heard in the same way in your setting, are some children listened to more than others? For example, how are babies’ voices heard?
  • How might you respond creatively to capturing the voice of the child and how might this inform your approach and practice?
  • Are there times of the day or spaces within your setting where the children’s voices aren’t heard as much as they usually are? For example, at playtimes or busy times for staff?