GeneralProgram and Practice

Co-research?

Dr Alma Fleet
August 24, 2020

The notion of ‘co-researching’ may be causing a little uncertainty around your place. You may have heard that you are being encouraged to try it, but you’re not all that sure what people are talking about! Remembering that the prefix ‘co’ means ‘with’, won’t be much help if you or your colleagues are unsure about the ‘research’ bit! Let’s remind ourselves that ‘research’ is the systematic act of investigating something to further your knowledge or deepen your understanding. Ideally, there is informal research unfolding all the time in your place, as you and your team collect information (data!) about the children in your care, trying to appreciate what they ‘know, can do, and understand.’ (EYLF!).

Of course, this presumes that we are not just organising activities, managing the day and transmitting information. While those things may be part of the ‘everyday’, there are also more thoughtful processes involved in professional behaviour. In this case, attention is drawn to what a child or small group of children are thinking about and curiously investigating. This engagement could emerge from something like – why the wet sand doesn’t pass through the funnel, or the tower falls over or concern about what might live in the hole in the garden patch. Children’s investigations may include prodding something with a finger or a toe, trying to stack the blocks again, asking for help, or simply looking puzzled. These aspects of play are a form of child-led research.  ‘Being alongside’ the child, both physically and figuratively, may enable you to settle quietly, look interested, provide support or a comment – which in many cases may be more useful than a question. Pausing to give the child (or children) a chance to find their words and collect their thoughts will be more of a gift than ‘jumping in’ with a solution to the problem! Certainly, if they’re ‘stuck’ (or frustrated), offering encouragement or suggesting another resource or wondering aloud if another child might be able to propose a way forward, may all be helpful strategies – and will contribute to your ‘researching together’. Curiosity and persistence fit in here too; these processes are all part of co-research!