Children and the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum
Children have a huge stake in the future of the neighbourhoods they live in and should be involved in shaping Neighbourhood Plans as much as possible.
There are many ways of getting children to think about their neighbourhood and what might change in future. Some ideas include:
In public spaces
When approaching people on the street have child-friendly questions ready to get children to think about how public spaces, transport, shopping and other issues relate to them. Representing issues graphically makes coming up with ideas an enjoyable activity and works best especially for younger ages. Placing stickers on drawings etc.
Use ICT sessions to encourage thoughts about Good and Bad aspects of the neighbourhood along with how things might be improved. This can apply to children of all ages and use a huge range of software including desk-top publishing, mind-maps , drawing, diagramming and artwork, audio & video recording and editing and much more.
Use the surveying aspects of the geography curriculum to gather data on aspects of local life that children identify as worthy of investigation and where there might be room for improvement. For project and group work children might put together worked-up ideas around issues such as travel and transport, environment, energy or local facilities, all supported by their own evidence base. In talking about issues it is important to highlight how neighbourhoods are part of regions, nations and the world and how global concerns such as climate change and sustainability can be placed in a local context.
The citizenship curriculum also provides an opportunity for involvement in Neighbourhood Plans. Groups of children could do ‘place-check’ walks in their areas photographingand making notes about what they find. (Read more about place checks.) Also, with the participation of members of the community involved in drawing up the Neighbourhood Plan special sessions could debate survey results and the output of workshop sessions adult members of the community have already taken part in.
With some imagination, other areas of the curriculum including English, history, art, drama and maths could also provide opportunities for engagement with local issues.
It is important that wherever possible childrens’ work comes together with the work of adults so all ages are involved in the neighbourhood plan. Work should be incorporated both in display and print so that children appreciate how they are helping to shape the future of their neighbourhood.
If you have ideas and examples of work with children please contact us through the Highgate Neighbourhood Forum website.