Researching with children: Conversations with preadolescent children about their lives
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Involving children in a conversation about their lives not only embraces children as valued contributors to research, but also enables the wider research community of adults, valued insight into children’s contemporary perspectives. Children’s views are increasingly being included in research, due in part to Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989). The importance of Article 12 is particularly pertinent when attempting to gain insights into the contemporary lived-experiences of children. This research is part of an ongoing project that seeks children’s perspectives on their childhood, with particular focus on the transition to adolescence. This research will ensure adults may be better informed and able to assist children to successfully negotiate the key transitions through life, enabling and maintaining a positive wellbeing and development of confidence. Through engaging children in conversations about their lives and including children’s perspectives in research, a clear understanding of the current lived experiences of childhood can be obtained. By becoming cognisant of the perspectives of children, we, as adults, may gain an increased understanding of how to better prepare children for the pressures of adolescent and adult life. Adults and helping professionals need to enlist the assistance of children in order to gain an informed understanding of what occurs during early adolescence that can inhibit a child’s continued positive socio-emotional development into adolescence. This research illustrates the considerations, benefits and challenges of working with children as research partners rather than research subjects in an attempt to reflect on and improve current practices and measures in enhancing and developing children’s wellbeing while the children negotiate the key transitions through life.
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