Involving children in designing public service

when your child ask, “why is there a moon?” Do not reply with a scientific answer. Ask him, “what do you think?” He will understand that you are telling him, “you have your ideas and mind and your own interpretation and your ideas are important to me.” Then you and he can look for the answers, sharing the wonder, curiosity, pain-everything. It is not the answer that are important, it is the process-that you and he search together.

-Carlina Rinaldi, Director of the. Municipal Infant-Toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy


As lately engaging in participatory design and community involvment, I start to think of what if children are involving in designing public service? not from a idea generation workshop level, but from a everyday practice? for example, how would you like to go to school? There is a fantastic example. Instead of parents drive children to school everyday (even only 2 minutes drive), people who live in the same neighhood walk their kids and neighboors kids to school in turns. This reduce the use of car, reduce the busy traffic around school and provide children with fresh air and excercise in the morning(vandrande skolbuss). Sometimes we tend to think big solutions, but small practice like this, help children involve in designing their everyday life. Isn’t it a “school” without physical form which teach children design thinking in practice? I wish to get to know more about the process behind, do they involve children in this project?

I see involving children in design public service are of great learning value in aspects of responsibility, identity and problem solving. Children will have a lot to say, especially the close everyday experience around them, like play space on the way to school, waste recycle, learing native languages(hemspråk), peer-to-peer learning (homework help) and so on.  This process will also  involve experts, pedogogists, caregivers to take account of children’s insight and opinions. And to listen is not doing survey, focus group and a half day to build something. It is about insitu-observation, understand the whole picture (for example, their journey from home to school) and keep asking why. It is about putting people who work with children in the center and front, empower them with co-create methods and building culture to inquiry and listen to children in a constructive and designerly way. (ideo cards & service design tools). Malmo living lab look into community based long term commitment instead of project-based for suburb development. (living labs)

This approach could be a way for public sector to work from the bottom-up and user-centered way. But also to expand the ” reggio approach” to everyday life and community building beyond school.  Source:






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *