Eliciting voice from children under three years old: pedagogical and research dilemmas

Research output: Research - peer-reviewPaper

This paper will explore the complexities of eliciting voice from children from birth to three years old, who are not able/choose not to access spoken language. We build on seminal works on voice and listening by Clarke and Moss (2001); Carr (2001); Christensen (2008); Dockett and Perry (2007) & Einarsdóttir, J., Dockett, S., & Perry, B. (2009). We explore how these principles and ideologies can be applied to eliciting voice from very young children. This paper is conceptualised from Dewey’s perspective on “tools as a mode of language” (Dewey, 1938) and is explored in an early years context by linking to Malaguzzi’s Hundred Languages. A case study approach (Yin, 2013) was adopted to gather vignettes of pedagogy practice, detailing the tools typically used to listen to very young children. Appropriate ethical consents were obtain and data disseminated in line with the EECERA Ethical Code (2015). This paper offers a reflective dialogue, supported by empirical vignettes, of the intricacies associated with eliciting voice from birth to three. We draw on well-established pedagogic practice to offer some examples of ‘Tools for Talk’ which may be applicable for pre-verbal children. We reflect on lessons learned from practice that demonstrate the successes, dilemmas and challenges of eliciting young children’s voice from the age of birth to three years. There is an overall lack of guidance or guiding principles relating to facilitating, listening to, and interpreting the voices of very young children. This paper offers a starting point for developing this guidance.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2017
Event27th European Early Childhood Educational Research Association Conference - University of Bologna, Bologna , Italy
Duration: 30 Aug 20171 Sep 2017


Conference27th European Early Childhood Educational Research Association Conference
Abbreviated titleEECERA 2017
Internet address

    Research areas

  • voice, spoken language, pedagogy practice, early years, infants, pre-verbal, children

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