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Listen to the pre-schoolers, academic urges


Zoe Satherley
14 September 2008
Even preschool children should be given the chance to have a say in how to solve problems affecting them, says Southern Cross University early childhood education lecturer, Dr Michele Leiminer.

Dr Leiminer will be presenting her fascinating research in this area at a seminar next Tuesday, September 16, at Southern Cross University’s Lismore campus.

This seminar will be of benefit to early childhood educators, teachers, parents and others interested in what we can learn about children through the conversations that occur in early childhood settings between parents, carers, teachers and children.

The seminar provides an overview of Dr Leiminer’s PhD research project which explores children’s competence in the context of home-pre-school communications. It offers an opportunity for participants to review records of real-life conversations to identify where and how children’s competence is evident.

Through studying real-life transcripts of conversations, the seminar will encourage participants to reflect on how they view young children and the diversity and complexity of their experiences and actions.

For example, in one conversation Dr Leiminer recorded for her study, a young boy was having trouble at preschool because he had no friends to play with.

The teacher thought she had the perfect solution to the problem, wanting the child to play outside on the play equipment where the other little boys hung out. But, rather than just impose the solution on the child, she included him in the discussion with surprising and revealing results.

The teacher asked the child where he liked to play. ‘In the home corner’ was his reply. The teacher replied that the boys he wanted to play with would not enjoy playing in the home corner. The child knew this, but it was still his preferred place to play. Then the teacher named a number of children he could invite to play with him. The child responded that he had already asked them all, and they had all said ‘no’.

“It is not always easy to find a solution to the problem,” Dr Leiminer said. “But it can help enormously if we routinely make an effort to really listen to what children themselves have to say and always include them and seek their opinion before imposing a solution on them.”

The free seminar is being held on Tuesday, September 16, in the School of Education building, room B 3.06, from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

Photo: Michele Leiminer believes parents and teachers should listen more to their pre-schoolers.