Collaborating with children about their interests

Did you know?

Discussions about likes and dislikes, or similarities and differences can be a great help for children learning to cope with situations that they don’t like.

Children often give clues about what their interests are through their choices in play, so by simply observing them we can find out lots about their individual preferences and interests.

We can also find out about a child's interests by:

childcare worker watching children at play. When asking children questions, we can structure our questions to encourage them to express their ideas, and to consider new ideas. Sometimes what interests children can be fairly obvious, at other times more investigation, time and encouragement may be needed. We can make sure there is time and opportunity for this by planning blocks of sufficient time for forms of creative exploration and expression, like drama, arts and crafts, painting and dancing.

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Read Allowing time for practice and try the activity at the end.

It is vital that we give children time to express their thoughts, then validate those thoughts, and act upon their interests to further encourage their development and foster their self esteem.

Recognising and respecting similarities and differences

Engaging in discussions with children and observing them closely will help us to identify what individual children in our care like and dislike. What would you say are some common dislikes of children? Having their hair brushed, taking a bath, packing away toys, eating vegetables and healthy foods, attending school, sharing with others all tend to rank quite highly.

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Have a look at this list of popular hobbies:

Soccer, shopping, reading, gardening, football, cooking, computer games, dancing, bird watching.

Which one do you like the least? Think about how you would feel if you were forced to take part in this.

When discussing likes and dislikes with children, we can offer information about ourselves first to help encourage the child to feel comfortable in talking about things they like or dislike. For instance:

‘I really like going to the doctors because when I feel sick they help me to feel better. How about you?’

Discussions about likes and dislikes, or similarities and differences can be a great help as children learn to cope with situations that they don’t like.

We also need to remember that it is important to respect children’s differences, and that not all children like to talk openly about their feelings or inner thoughts.