We asked six, seven and eight year old, children to write a Newsletter for other children their age. Not having done this before we didn't know if it would work or how it would work.
During our first sessions they looked at the lay out and played around with how photos could be used - that involved slightly more technical skills than they had - although they did learn a couple of things.
We spent some time on what we would call the Newsletter - they started off calling it 'No Adults Allowed' but one person said she didn't like that so it will now be called 'Just For Children' - it was their decision to change it I should add.
A sub-committee of three looked at the graphics for the top of the front page and came up with a colourful array of symbols - not particularly coherent but it catches the eye - and thats what they want.
We talked about how much space we would have - in our case two full colour A4 sides for our first edition.
We paid them with biscuits - but no more than two each per session (no union nonsense here). Once we explained that the Newsletter would go into more than 1500 local houses - and possibly into local schools they were really up for it.
They chose their own topics for an article each. Two choose to do something about Taylor Swift and, after some tensions, agreed between them how they would divide up Ms Swift. One choose the ten facts approach (although it ended up as nine facts and an opinion) the other journalist did a purely opinion piece on why Ms Swift is a nice person.
Our sole boy journalist choose to do something on flooding - his neighbourhood had recently suffered some flash floods due to heavy rain.
Another choose road safety and an article suggesting that if people weren't so rude to each other the roads would be safer - she had seen a recent car accident on a busy local road. For all I know, she may have the answer to most road safety issues in the UK!
Another journalist choose to consult with other children on how a new play area could be laid out - the neighbourhood could be about to undergo some major re-generation involving moving houses and play parks about. Plans were drawn and a few words written on the best rides and swings.
Our last - and youngest - journalist has chosen something on ice creams which sounds good to me and gives something for all our readers.
We briefly discussed what they would feel and think if other people were critical about what they had written and how they would deal with it. We concluded that although some other children might be jealous and mean most would be impressed.
We have the means to print the Newsletter and get it distributed and now we have the articles written and the pictures and drawings selected.
They will come along to meetings and sit down and discuss issues (even though some time is taken up establishing how many biscuits they can each have). They took it seriously.
They are interested in many things from pop stars to ice cream to the disruption flooding can cause to being safe in their neighbourhoods and what their local area will look like in the years to come.
Already a number of things are clear. Children know more than we think - they see more than we think and they want to have their say.
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