Working With Young Children as Co-Researchers: An Approach Informed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children have the right to express their views on all matters affecting them and to have those views given due weight. This right applies in the context of research; however, examples of young children being engaged as co-researchers remain rare. Practice or Policy: This article examines the implications of adopting an explicit UNCRC-informed approach to engaging children as co-researchers. It draws on a research project that sought to ascertain young children’s views on after-school programs and that involved a university-based research team working along with 2 groups of co-researchers; each composed of 4 children aged 4 to 5.

The article discusses the contribution made by children to the development of the research questions and choice of methods and their involvement in the interpretation of the data and dissemination of the findings. It suggests that, although there are limits to what young children can and will want to do in the context of adult-led research studies, an explicit UNCRC-informed approach requires the adoption of supportive strategies that can assist children to engage in a meaningful way, with consequent benefits for the research findings and outputs.