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Children Are Citizens (CAC)

Fostering civic agency in young children, CAC focuses on ways students can contribute to making their community a better place.

Featuring both professional development & curriculum enactment, this project--inspired by the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy--is grounded in the belief that children are capable of conceiving and carrying out an action project that improves their community. Teachers learn to truly listen to their students and document the learning journey. Children's ideas guide the action project.


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
March 2020
Washington, DC, belongs to everyone!

About the innovation

What does it mean to be a citizen?

What we do?

We bring together teachers from across Washington, DC, for an intensive seminar series in which they learn about practices that encourage children to consider ways they can contribute to making their city a better place for children. The teachers listen carefully to their students; they document conversations, community walks, conversations, etc., and let the documentation guide what pedagogical moves they will take next. They then use the students' ideas to co-create with the children an action project that has a positive impact on their community. Parents get involved as documenters, experts in their community, and chaperones on field trips. Cultural institution partners such as museums and children's theater groups support explorations in the classroom and on field trips. A celebration of the children's projects features curated documentation from the learning journey.

Why we do it?

For too long, adults have not valued children as citizens in their own right, with ideas about how things work and a strong sense of justice and fairness. We challenge that thinking with this project, which has shown again and again that children have serious and creative ways to make their community a better place for everyone. We take inspiration from the municipal preschools and infant/toddler sections of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and we use pedagogical frameworks and tools from Harvard Project Zero research.

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