New publication helps development professionals determine how children spend their time

Development professionals who want to create effective interventions that improve the well-being of children and youth must have an in-depth understanding of how young people spend their time. Time-use research yields valuable, contextual data that can inform the design and implementation of interventions and the measurement of outcomes. This data sheds light on key measures of well-being, including school attendance, access to opportunities for play and socialization, safety, child labor and gender inequalities. Tracking changes in time use can also help projects identify successes and risks to children so that practitioners can suggest appropriate adjustments to interventions.

Traditionally, this information has been gathered from adults. That input, however, can be skewed by the value adults place on certain activities, which is why it is important to work directly with children and youth to gather information on their time use.

FHI 360’s Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening (STRIVE) project developed a tool and guide for child-friendly, participatory rapid appraisal (PRA) to help with these efforts: The Time Use PRA Guide and Toolkit for Child and Youth Development Practitioners.

The guide draws on lessons from STRIVE’s experience in the Philippines, where the PRA tool was piloted with children between 8 and 18 years old to gather information for project evaluation. The guide is published with a sample PRA tool that can be adapted for use in a variety of contexts.

STRIVE is managed by FHI 360 and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Tips for participatory research with children

  • Listen and be respectful, genuine and friendly.
  • Make children feel welcome immediately. Children will respond and participate more freely if they are comfortable. Facilitators should make the PRA sessions fun, with age-appropriate, interactive warm-up exercises and games.
  • Be nonjudgmental. If you communicate discomfort or dislike about what is said or how it is said, then the discussion will be bound by your viewpoint. Allow children to collaborate on their answers.
  • Stay on their level. Sit with the children, rather than standing over them. It is important not to “speak down” to children but to use words that they understand.
  • Ask questions to verify your understanding of the meaning and significance of points that they make. Listen respectfully to what they have to say.

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