American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
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American Journal of Educational Research. 2016, 4(6), 496-503
DOI: 10.12691/education-4-6-10
Open AccessArticle

Children’s Own Perspectives on Participation in Leisure-time Centers in Sweden

Helene Elvstrand1 and Anna Liisa Närvänen2,

1Department of Social and Welfare Studies, Linköping University, Norrköping, Sweden

2Department of Social Studies, Linnaeus University, Växjö. 35106, Sweden

Pub. Date: May 03, 2016

Cite this paper:
Helene Elvstrand and Anna Liisa Närvänen. Children’s Own Perspectives on Participation in Leisure-time Centers in Sweden. American Journal of Educational Research. 2016; 4(6):496-503. doi: 10.12691/education-4-6-10


This article presents a study conducted at two different leisure time centers (LTCs) in Sweden. LTC is a voluntary after-school setting that according to the national curriculum should support for example development of values and children’s social skills. The analysis is a part of a larger action research project comprising various research issues relating to LTCs. The present article focuses on the democratic objective of LTCs. The Swedish educational system, of which LTCs form a part, is considered to be rights-based with reference to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. The national curriculum stresses citizenship education, and both schools and LTCs are considered venues where children should have the opportunity and ability to practice democracy in their everyday activities. The point of departure in the theoretical framework is children’s participation and agency. This article focuses on data gathered through ‘drawing and talking with children’ that reveals children’s perspectives as to their own participation at LTCs. A total of 19 children participated in the study and were asked to draw a map of their LTC and describe their experiences of participation at the LTC. The results show that children clearly favored activities that, at least to some extent, could be carried out with less adult supervision, such as free, unstructured play. Opportunities to participate were described in terms of formal proceedings such as voting or writing suggestions and depositing them in the suggestion box. The children also described their participation in terms of opportunities to make individual choices in accordance with their preferences. When asked to name obstacles to participation, the children mentioned rules that were decided on by adults, and fixed routines that structured the children’s afternoon hours in terms of both time and space.

participation leisure time center agency children’s perspective democracy

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