Preschool teachers’ beliefs about child participation and its implementation in practice

Tatiana Le-van (Russia), Anna Iakshina (Russia)

The implementation of the participatory approach in education allows forming important children’s competencies for life in a democratic society. However, in reality, child participation is often reduced. Children, especially young, have the right to make decisions only about their games and personal belongings, but a child’s opinion is not credible in the educational process. A more successful implementation of the participatory approach requires resorting to tools that allow objectively considering its strengths and weaknesses in terms of provisions for child participation in decision-making. The study aims to identify the connection between Russian teachers’ beliefs about child participation and the quality level of provisions for child participation in the educational process. The methods of survey and structured non-participant observation have been used. The authors have found that, in general, the majority of teachers share the idea of supporting child participation. However, the quality of the learning environment in the context of the examined aspect differs significantly. Sociometric characteristics do not determine these differences. Regardless of the quality level of child participation support, teachers do not seek to expand opportunities for children, and the participatory approach is used only in the preschool classroom. The authors have concluded that despite teachers’ stated beliefs about the importance of the participatory approach, its implementation is often falsified. To change the situation, it is necessary to discuss this gap with teachers, clarify true values, and provide them with the necessary means for real child participation.