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Listening to young children: critical reflections

This module will be of significant interest to anyone interested in the lives and learning of young children, including early childhood practitioners. It will be of particular value to those who want to develop their knowledge and understanding for professional roles linked to careers in education, health and social care. You'll explore why the child’s voice is important, by considering different approaches to listening, and the importance of children’s participation in early childhood provision and practice.

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OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
To enable you to make international comparisons, the information provided shows how OU levels correspond to the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ).
2 5
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
See Entry requirements

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What you will study

The module consists of three blocks:

Block 1: Foundations for listening to all children
You’ll consider what listening to children means, by studying different theoretical and historical ideas around the significance of the child’s voice and children’s participation. You’ll reflect on the complexity of young children’s lives; and explore different situations in which listening is key, for example, for children who are multi-lingual or experiencing transition and change.

Block 2: Responding to the child – how do we listen?
You’ll engage with different approaches to listening that have been used in early childhood research and practice. Throughout this block, you’ll study Alison Clark’s Mosaic approach in depth, as well as several other methods that promote children’s participation. You’ll develop your knowledge and understanding of how listening to young children can be put into practice as well as exploring some of the ethical issues that can arise.

Block 3: Listening, communicating and changing
You’ll think about how listening and children’s participation can be central to early childhood policy, practice and provision. You’ll further reflect on what a listening culture means for young children within their families, settings they attend, and their wider community. You’ll also consider some of the complexities of commitment to children’s participation – in decision making about their lives and experiences – that arise from issues of power and control.

This module will provide you with insights into the many aspects of listening to children, and the value of a participatory approach to supporting their learning. It draws on examples and studies, both from the UK and abroad (for example, Australia, Italy and Scandinavia). By using such a wide range of resources, your perspective will broaden and your thinking will extend beyond situations that are more familiar.

You’ll compare practice that you observe with ideas that you study. You’ll reflect on the practice and experiences you see and how these might be adapted or changed.

You will learn

The module will enable you to:

  • analyse and critically discuss concepts, theories, research and practice
  • critically reflect on your own and others’ values and perspectives
  • critically reflect on the role of the researcher and ethical considerations for the study of children and their families
  • build and summarise arguments and arrive at supported conclusions.

Vocational relevance

This module includes specific learning outcomes to support the development of professional employability skills linked to careers in education, health and social care, and includes Personal Development Planning (PDP).

If you’re a practitioner, the learning journal you compile could contribute to a portfolio of evidence of learning, together with the module activities you complete, observations of practice, and your reflections on your role and provision.

The module will enable you to develop as creative, imaginative and reflective learner – a foundation for employment, and continuing academic study, in the field of early childhood. Transferable skills are applicable to a range of professional contexts.

Outside the UK

Synchronous tutorials and communications could be difficult to deliver to students outside UK due to time differences. If you can’t attend the synchronous tutorials or make synchronous communications, you’ll have to use asynchronous alternative methods, such as watching recorded tutorials and emailing questions.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a named tutor who will support your studies and mark and comment on your assignment work; you can also seek academic advice and guidance from them. Your tutor will offer support through email, telephone and online forum discussions.

We aim to provide face-to-face tutorials in a range of locations students can travel to, though we cannot guarantee availability close to where you live. Online alternatives may also be provided, and recordings of these will typically be made available to students.

Student numbers on the module, and where tutors are based, will affect the locations of where tutorials are held, and what online alternatives are provided. We cannot guarantee that face-to-face tutorials will be hosted in specific locations, or locations that have been used previously. While you’re not obliged to attend any of these tutorial events, you are strongly encouraged to take part.


You can find the assessment details for this module in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Listening to young children: critical reflections starts once a year – in October.

This page describes the module that will start in October 2021. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2025.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

    Course work includes:

    4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school

    Entry requirements

    You must be aged 18 or over.

    There are no formal academic or experiential requirements to study this module.

    However, it’s essential you have an interest in young children’s lives and learning. It would also be beneficial for you to arrange access to an early childhood setting1 if you’re not already working or volunteering in such a setting. We recommend you visit a setting1 weekly/fortnightly throughout the module and particularly during Blocks 2 and 3.

    If you’re not sure you’re ready, talk to an adviser.

    1Access to settings will require you to meet the ‘fit person’ criteria, in your country, to work with children. You and your setting are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements, not the OU.

    Preparatory work

    We strongly recommend you complete both Exploring perspectives on young children’s lives and learning (E109) and Young children’s play and creativity (E110) before starting this module.


    Start End Fee Register
    02 Oct 2021 Jun 2022 Not yet available

    Registration opens on 18/03/21

    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2025.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

    If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).

    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 26/02/2021.

    What's included

    You will have access to a module website, which includes:

    • a week-by-week study planner
    • course-specific module materials
    • audio and video content
    • assignment details and submission section
    • online tutorial access
    • activities to support your studies
    • links to online forums for you to interact with fellow students and your tutor.

    You’ll also be provided with one printed book – Listening to Young Children by Alison Clark which you will use during your study.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying E229 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Disability support website.