This qualitative study explored five children’s perspectives of their experiences in both a university laboratory school and in their current public school setting. Semi-structured conversations and child-produced drawings provided children with an opportunity, not only to express their thoughts and opinions, but also aided in establishing children as competent informants on their own lived experiences. Employing the ‘new’ sociology of childhood, critical studies, and a child rights-based perspective as theoretical frameworks, an overarching theme of power and hierarchy was established throughout the children’s descriptions of their experiences. More specifically, this central theme is explored through the children’s discussions and descriptions of: space, pedagogical practice, peer relationships, rules, and their decision-making and influence on curriculum. These themes, however, present themselves differently in the children’s implicit and explicit comparisons of the different learning environments. In conclusion, recommendations for future practices and areas for further research are discussed.
Keywords: children’s perception of education, ‘new’ sociology of childhood, critical pedagogy, kindergarten, university laboratory schools