Exploring children’s perspectives: Multiple ways of seeing and knowing the child

Sally Peters, Janette Kelly


This article focuses on human development in the early years, and the challenges for teachers and researchers in seeking to explore young children’s perspectives. The current interest in listening to children’s voices sits within competing developmental discourses about infants, toddlers and young children, which emphasise both their capability and confidence as well as their immaturity, especially with regard to oral language. Their “voice” can be heard and seen differently by teachers, researchers and families, who filter it according to their own perspectives and their image of the child. Drawing on a range of contemporary New Zealand studies, we discuss some key issues such as whether children need speech to have a voice? And in what ways can we gather children’s perspectives in research and education? To explore children’s perspectives and hear their voices requires skilled and flexible researchers and teachers, who watch and listen carefully whilst being mindful of their filtering/interpretive gazes. This takes time and patience and requires multiple ways of gathering data in order that the child is heard authentically.


Young children; early children education; children's voices; perspectives; rights

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DOI: 10.15663/wje.v20i3.219


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© Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research, Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education, 2015