Wiring the brain for participation through active listening and active learning




Vaghri, Ziba
Covell, Katherine
Clow, Holly

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The Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights


Opportunities for participation are generally conceived to be provided through structures in the child’s environment. Here we make the case that a prerequisite to meaningful participation is providing children with an early environments conducive to creating the capacity to participate within the child. Early environments have a profound impact on children’s brain development and as such on their motivation and capacity to exercise their participation rights. We believe that insufficient attention has been paid to preparing children neurologically for meaningful participation in matters that affect them. After summarizing brain development in early childhood, we make the case that active listening which acts as sensory stimulation for the developing brain, and active learning, which builds confidence, self-esteem, and problem-solving skills, play key roles in promoting children’s cognitive and motivational capacity for meaningful participation. Participation is meant to promote self-determination through the capacity to make effective decisions about self and others. Active listening and active learning increase the likelihood that this aim will be achieved.



child rights, active listening, active learning, child participation, brain development, play


Vaghri, Z., Covell, K. & Clow, H. (2018). Wiring the brain for participation through active listening and active learning. The Canadian Journal of Children’s Rights, 5(1), 71-85. Retrieved from: https://ojs.library.carleton.ca/index.php/cjcr/article/view/1248