Theoretical and practical issues concerning young children’s citizenship education: The program “Learn, Care and Act about my City”

Efthymia Vaharis Penderi


Young children’s citizenship is a newly constructed concept that elaborates on the placement of children in the civic sphere while it may provide theoretical guidance for relevant educational programs. However, there are restrictions in the way proposed models of citizenship are understood with reference to young children and used to guide pedagogical practices. Moreover, gaps in teachers training and lack of explicit goals and guidance in curricula have resulted in the restricted implementation of targeted programs in the preschool setting and with questionable results concerning children’s active participation. The paper discusses the issue of young children’s citizenship in light of social pedagogical considerations, analyzing an integrated model of citizenship within five-stage children’s participation and agency. Then the design and implementation of the program “Learn, Care and Act about my City” is described. This program was chosen as it incorporates the aforementioned theoretical considerations. It was developed using collaborative action research in 4 kindergarten schools in Northern Greece. 9 kindergarten teachers and 97 children participated in the program which lasted almost 8 months. It consisted of 4 basic thematic units, designed by the coordinator of the program and critical friend, in collaboration with the participating teachers and following several cycles of observation, reflection and redesign of the activities using formative evaluation. Concluding the issue of teachers guidance and professional development along with the dynamics of children’s participation in their civic identity formation are discussed.  

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