Participation of children in democratic decision-making in kindergarten: experiences in Germany and Lithuania
Jonynienė, Vilma Živilė
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In the paper the authors try to describe, in regard to Germany and Lithuania, how much the idea of children’s participation in democratic decision-making is acknowledged in kindergartens and which research projects on the topic already exist. The paper discusses kindergarten children’s participation in democratic decisionmaking, which is crucial in implementation of the rights of a child. Democratic participation makes a child and his/her inner world visible and meaningful. It is important to let a child experience the democratic-decision making process, power and consequences of the decision. Research shows that kindergarten children are capable of reporting important issues in their everyday life. They can make projects, conferences, deliberate in conversations, moderate a meeting, and represent other children in the kindergarten parliament. Kindergarten children participation in decision-making responds and satisfies the main objectives of: 1) children’s rights (UN CRC), 2) modern education and 3) social welfare/well-being. The research data of a few pioneer research projects done in Germany (2003, 2010 and 2011) and in Lithuania (2012) on child democratic participation in kindergarten are discussed in the paper. Results of the research show that the idea of kindergarten children’s participation in decision-making is neither understood properly or accepted or implemented widely. Child participation is not linked semantically to listening to the child’s opinion and deliberations with a child. Parents fear that children don’t feel dangerous issues, that education of children is neglected when implementing a child’s participation in projects. However, generally, activities with child participation increased and improved the democracy and the education of the children in the kindergartens where it id implemented. However, generally, activities with child participation increased and improved the democracy and the education of the children in the kindergartens where it is implemented.
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