My name is Rajvir Kaur Sran and I am currently majoring in Children, Childhood, and Youth Studies. In September, I will be applying for the Bachelor of Education Consecutive program at York University. After high school, I went to a private college where I received my dental assisting diploma, and later worked as a certified dental assistant for three years. When I realized that the dental field was not for me, I started to pursue a career in children’s studies. I love working with children and I believe that children are more knowledgeable than many adults believe. Thus, I want to continue doing more research projects where I can help children voice their opinions and express their thoughts about certain topics without any judgement.
After finishing my studies at York University, I plan on pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher. During the pandemic and transition to online learning, I witnessed children struggling to learn and keep up with their online studies, so for the past two years, I have been tutoring children between the ages of five to 12 online and in-person every day for free so they don’t fall behind in school. During the last couple years at York, I have met amazing professors who have motivated me to become a better student. As a student that suffers from anxiety, I am grateful that I have amazing friends, family, and professors helping me throughout this process!
My Research Project
One of the courses I took as a part of my CCY studies was CCY 4999: Research with Children and Young People: Honours Research Project. The research question that I focused on was, "What do children (aged 7 to 11) in Peel Region know about healthy foods and how do they incorporate this knowledge into their daily lifestyle?"
Researching this question helped me gain more knowledge regarding children’s understanding of cooking and nutrition as I worked with children and allowed them to express their own feelings and thoughts on healthy eating. This topic helped me realize that children are more knowledgeable than we tend to think about which foods are considered healthy and which are less healthy.
To collect my data, I chose a “visual and arts-based method,” where participants created illustrations to answer several questions posed of them. Then, I followed this up with a focus group method. During the focus group discussion, I asked participants a range of questions related to my research topic and invited them to explain their drawings to me. After completing my data collection, I transcribed my recordings. Three themes emerged from my data which were: 1.) the relational influences children experience in relation to what they eat; 2.) the knowledge children develop about healthy foods; and 3.) the ways in which children express agency in relation to food choices.
I believe children learn best while doing and my research project helped me understand that my participants learned more about healthy foods when they had the opportunity express agency by preparing their own meals with the help of their mothers. I also learned that the mothers of my participants influenced their children’s food choices and taught them which foods are healthy and which foods are not by sharing commonly held proverbs such as, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.”
This project underscored the idea that it is important for researchers to conduct research with children instead of on children. Inviting children to be active in the processes of research allows them to express agency and share their experiences. I am so grateful that I was able to provide children a safe space to have discussions and voice their opinions. I am proud to say that I achieved an A+ in CCY 4999! I cannot wait to be part of more research projects in the future.