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Preschool Aged Children’s Accounts of their Own Wellbeing: are Current Wellbeing Indicators Applicable to Young Children?

Abstract

Despite increased efforts within child wellbeing research to include children’s perspectives in our knowledge of child wellbeing, young children’s voices continue to be largely excluded. As the transition to school is widely understood as a key time to assess child wellbeing, preschool aged children are a frequent target of child wellbeing indicator use, making their exclusion from child wellbeing knowledge problematic. This study sought to redress preschool aged children’s exclusion from child wellbeing indicator research through investigating their perspectives of wellbeing. Using a citizen-child approach to participatory research, three-to-five-year-old children attending eight diverse early childhood education and care services in Australia shared their experiences and understandings of wellbeing. Children’s accounts were compared to adult derived child wellbeing frameworks to determine the way children’s accounts accorded and differed from current conceptualisations. The findings evidenced that young children’s accounts further validated current adult derived child wellbeing indicators. Additionally, children’s accounts uncovered two novel indicators yet to be explored in relation to child wellbeing social indicator frameworks: opportunities for play, and young children’s agency. The role of agency and play in children’s conceptualisations of wellbeing are considered in light of contemporary empirical research and will be of keen interest to those education and public health professionals and policy-makers concerned with improving child wellbeing outcomes.

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Fane, J., MacDougall, C., Jovanovic, J. et al. Preschool Aged Children’s Accounts of their Own Wellbeing: are Current Wellbeing Indicators Applicable to Young Children?. Child Ind Res 13, 1893–1920 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-020-09735-7

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Keywords

  • Child wellbeing
  • Child voice
  • Young children
  • Early childhood
  • Play
  • Agency