Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. OU research shapes new framework for nursery practitioners to empower children

OU research shapes new framework for nursery practitioners to empower children

Three young children playing with a water table in the garden

Research by Dr Natalie Canning, Senior Lecturer of Early Childhood and Co-Director of The Open University’s (OU) Children’s Research Centre, has helped shape a new framework for early childhood practitioners.

Created in partnership with the Interactive Learning Diary, practitioners can use the ‘Empowerment Framework’ to observe and analyse children’s play and activities to look for indicators of empowerment and learning.

Through a better understanding of children’s behaviour, practitioners can focus on activities that are more beneficial to children’s development.

Dr Canning’s research about child empowerment and supporting children to explore personal, social and emotional development through play has formed the basis of the framework, which several UK nurseries are already piloting.

Dr Canning said:

“Empowerment in child-initiated, social play is not one single action, event or circumstance. It is concerned with examining individual choices and decisions based on social interactions, emotional responses and environmental influences within situated boundaries and resources.

“There are essential components that contribute to young children’s experiences of empowerment. This new framework addresses all of these components in a simple, easy-to-use way.”

Dr Canning believes that the three key themes that empower children in play are participation, voice and ownership. Being able to express views and be in a position of control or ownership of play enhances vital skills such as decision-making, communication and negotiation.

“In considering the challenges of celebrating empowerment in play it is not only about placing children at the centre of the process, but the way in which young children are viewed as experts in their own play.

“I just want children to have choices, be confident to make those choices and be able to change their mind if they want to.”

A version of this story, written by Hannah Grimmette, originally appeared on OU News.

Contact our news team

For all out of hours enquiries, please telephone +44 (0)7901 515891

Contact details

News & articles

View from above of the surface of the Moon

New potential water resources for lunar exploration

Research supported by an OU academic, has found that glass beads formed from the cooling of melted material ejected by and found strewn across the Moon could store substantial quantities of water.

30th March 2023
See all