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THE VOICES OF THE CHILDREN: WHAT DO CHILDREN HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THE KINDERGARTEN?

D. Velan1, S. Tatalović Vorkapić2

1Juraj Dobrila University of Pula, Faculty of Educational Sciences (CROATIA)
2University of Rijeka, Faculty of Teacher Education (CROATIA)
Within the early and preschool care and education, the quality of work is of utmost importance. One of the mostly applied methods for analyzing educational institutions’ work quality is the evaluation method, which could be carried out by all subjects: early childhood educators, parents and children. Even though children in preschool institutions are directly involved in the educational process, their opinion was rarely examined due to reasonable methodological difficulties. However, children’s perspective should not be ignored, especially not in the evaluation of the institution of which they are the main subjects. Contemporary early childhood science and the psychology of children’s wellbeing emphasize that children’s voices should be heard. Therefore, this study will present results from one kindergarten evaluation in which 87 children answered 41 questions about their life in the kindergarten. The aim of the study was to examine children’s opinions about five major domains of their stay in the kindergarten: the climate, material and educational conditions, stimulation of children’s development, sensitivity to children’s needs and children’s autonomy. The results show that children are able to recognize to a lesser extent the active role of teachers and parents and their own active role in deciding about activities. Almost all children evaluated their environment and material conditions as satisfying. When they were asked what they would change, their answers mostly focused on the spatial conditions and children’s autonomy in decision making. Based on determined findings, this paper will contribute to the knowledge about conducting research with preschool children and enabling them to realize their communicative and participating rights.