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Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being
SPOTLIGHT

Places and Spaces: Environments and children’s well-being

Report Card 17 explores how 43 OECD/EU countries are faring in providing healthy environments for children. Do children have clean water to drink? Do they have good-quality air to breathe? Are their homes free of lead and mould? How many children live in overcrowded homes? How many have access to green play spaces, safe from road traffic? Data show that a nation’s wealth does not guarantee a healthy environment. Far too many children are deprived of a healthy home, irreversibly damaging their current and future well-being. Beyond children’s immediate environments, over-consumption in some of the world’s richest countries is destroying children’s environments globally. This threatens both children worldwide and future generations. To provide all children with safe and healthy environments, governments, policymakers, businesses and all stakeholders are called to act on a set of policy recommendations.
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How relaxing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How relaxing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Sabbiana Cunsolo; Victor Cebotari; Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

From a developmental perspective, skills or capacities, such as ‘relaxing’, are commonly considered necessary for children to achieve optimal development and reach their full
potential. From this perspective ‘relaxing’ can be considered a capacity that could help children to cope with emotional and behavioural problems and lower their levels of stress and anxiety.

To the best of our knowledge, this is the first attempt to map the existing evidence of cultivating ‘relaxing’ as a key core capacity with an explicit focus on children, and understand age-related development, links to wellbeing and other core capacities, and the levels and application of ‘relaxing’ among significant adults in children’s lives. These contributions will help inform real, positive and efficient changes in general policies and practices for child development.

How listening develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How listening develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Marloes Vrolijk; Dominic Richardson; Sabbiana Cunsolo

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical knowledge of children’s listening and how does it interact with overall well-being throughout childhood?

This review study is a first attempt to map the existing theoretical and empirical literature about a possible core capacity for well-being: listening.

It focuses on the development of listening throughout childhood, listening in formal and informal learning, listening in family and community settings, and possible links between listening and well-being. Relevant empirical studies were identified that further explain the development of listening comprehension throughout childhood. Relevant streams of literature identified included listening to music and positive effects on child wellbeing, children’s extensive listening in schools, and the effects of undesirable listening environments.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 31
How observing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How observing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Sabbiana Cunsolo; Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

This study maps map the empirical and theoretical evidence of children’s ability for ‘observing’ or ‘noticing’ as a core capacity for life within the Learning for Well-Being Foundation’s theoretical framework, and how it interacts with overall child development.

More specifically, this review aims to contribute to existing knowledge in three ways: (i) it adds to the evidence of ‘observing’ as a core capacity for children from a childhood development perspective, (ii) it assesses the interaction of ‘observing’ with other core capacities and with overall child well-being, and (iii) it looks at the development of ‘observing’ as a core capacity among significant adults in children’s lives (e.g., teachers, educators, parents). 

Although the available evidence is limited, results show a significant link between children’s levels of observation or attention and cognitive skills in general, such as working memory and executive attention.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 26
How reflecting develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How reflecting develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Marloes Vrolijk; Dominic Richardson; Sabbiana Cunsolo

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

Reflecting, or thinking about one’s own thinking, is understood by the Learning for Well-Being Foundation as one of the possible core capacities which may influence well-being in children. This study explores the academic literature for theoretical and empirical evidence in support of this conceptualization.

Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical evidence of children’s reflecting and how does it interact with overall well-being throughout childhood?

The objectives of the review are to map the evidence of the development of reflecting in children, describe possible gaps in the literature and search whether any studies explore reflecting as a core capacity, or study the relationship between reflecting and child well-being. In doing so this paper focuses on the possibly diverse development of the core capacity in children, on the capacity in parents, teachers and other caregivers and the role they play in the development of the core capacity, and on the evidence from the academic literature.

How inquiring develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How inquiring develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Marloes Vrolijk; Victor Cebotari; Dominic Richardson; Sabbiana Cunsolo

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

There are many studies on how children ask questions and how this capacity develops over time. Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical knowledge of children’s inquiry, and how does it interact with overall child well-being throughout childhood?

This paper maps evidence of the development of inquiry as a core capacity for children, studies the relationship between inquiring and child well-being and explores the Learning for Well-Being Foundation’s theoretical framework.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 38
How discerning patterns develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How discerning patterns develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Sabbiana Cunsolo; Marloes Vrolijk; Dominic Richardson

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

Drawing from a multidisciplinary evidence base, what is the empirical and theoretical knowledge of children’s discerning patterns and how does it interact with overall child well-being throughout childhood?

This review is a first attempt to map the existing theoretical and empirical literature about a possible core capacity for well-being: discerning patterns. The review of the literature will contribute to the understanding of discerning patterns as a core capacity for well-being within the Learning for Well-Being framework.

How enriching sensory awareness develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How enriching sensory awareness develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Adriano Linzarini; Victor Cebotari; Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk; Sabbiana Cunsolo

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

‘Sensory awareness’ relates to the way humans perceive, distinguish and focus on the world through the senses.

 This report focuses on the enrichment of sensory processing as a core capacity. Enrichment is understood both as the child’s ability to broaden their own sensory capabilities and as the societal mechanisms to support and nurture sensory development during childhood and adolescence by various means and in various contexts, such as school and family environments.

This literature review maps empirical and evidence-based theoretical knowledge of the enrichment of children’s sensory awareness and how it interacts with overall child well-being throughout childhood.


Cite this publication | No. of pages: 25
How empathizing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood
How empathizing develops and affects well-being throughout childhood

AUTHOR(S)
Sabbiana Cunsolo; Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk

Published: 2021 Innocenti Working Papers

A growing body of evidence suggests that successful performance in school, work and life needs to be supported by a wide range of skills, the development of which should be nurtured and expanded throughout childhood.

This study maps the existing evidence of children’s ability related to ‘empathy’ as a ‘core capacity’. The aim is to use this learning to bring about real, positive and efficient changes in general policies and practices for child development. According to the Learning for Well-Being Foundation, empathy is part of a set of core capacities that are naturally present in children and can be cultivated through various practices across a child’s lifetime. From a developmental perspective, capacities such as empathy are commonly considered necessary for children to achieve optimal development and reach their full potential.

Cite this publication | No. of pages: 26
What Makes Me? Core capacities for living and learning
What Makes Me? Core capacities for living and learning

AUTHOR(S)
Dominic Richardson; Marloes Vrolijk; Sabbiana Cunsolo; Victor Cebotari

Published: 2021 Innocenti Research Report

This report explores how ‘core capacities’ – or cornerstones of more familiar concepts, such as life skills and competences – develop over the early part of the life course, and how they contribute to children’s personal well-being and development.

The report synthesizes the work of the Measuring What Matters project, and nine detailed working papers – covering the core capacities of ‘Discerning patterns’, ‘Embodying’, ‘Empathizing’, ‘Inquiring’, ‘Listening’, ‘Observing’, ‘Reflecting’, ‘Relaxing’ and ‘Sensing’ – that individually review the empirical evidence on each core capacity in the academic literature. Each working paper assesses the contribution of the core capacities and the perspectives from which they are applied – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – to children’s well-being and development, and the practice and policies applied by adults working with children in relation to each core capacity.

The purpose of the work is to assess how core capacities can improve the lives of children, and to understand the ways in which education systems and broader social systems can protect and promote these capacities. This project builds on the existing evidence base to understand better how children’s personal attributes (age and gender), and the world around the child, can promote the use of core capacities for the benefit of child well-being and to improve policies and practices for child development.

The aim of this work is to use this learning to contribute practical steps to improve the living and learning conditions for children globally – not just in school, not just at home, but in their daily lives, and as they grow into adulthood.

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JOURNAL ARTICLES BLOGS
Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence
Publication

Return on Knowledge: How international development agencies are collaborating to deliver impact through knowledge, learning, research and evidence

Effective collaboration around knowledge management and organizational learning is a key contributor to improving the impact of international development work for the world’s most vulnerable people. But how can it be proven? With only 10 years from the target date for the Sustainable Development Goals, nine of the world’s most influential agencies set out to show to the connection between the use of evidence, knowledge and learning and a better quality of human life. This book – a synthesis of stories, examples and insights that demonstrate where and how these practices have made a positive impact on development programming – is the result of the Multi-Donor Learning Partnership (MDLP), a collective effort to record the ways each of these organizations have leveraged intentional, systematic and resourced approaches to knowledge management and organizational learning in their work.
Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)
Publication

Gender Solutions: Capturing the impact of UNICEF’s gender equality evidence investments (2014–2021)

UNICEF has undertaken hundreds of gender evidence generation activities, supporting programmatic action, advocacy work and policymaking. The Gender Solutions project aims to draw together the knowledge, innovations and impacts of gender evidence work conducted by UNICEF offices since the first UNICEF Gender Action Plan was launched in 2014. A desk review identified over 700 gender-related UNICEF research, evaluation and data evidence generation activities since 2014. Twenty-five outputs were shortlisted because of their high quality and (potential for) impact and three were selected as Gender Evidence Award winners by an external review panel. By capturing the impact of this broad body of work, Gender Solutions aims to showcase UNICEF’s evidence investments, reward excellence and inform the rollout of the UNICEF Gender Policy 2021–2030 and Action Plan 2022–2025.
Annual Report 2021
Publication

Annual Report 2021

The UNICEF Innocenti Annual Report 2021 highlights the key results achieved in research and evidence to inform policymaking and programming.
Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being
Publication

Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children: Digital technology, play and child well-being

Digital experiences can have significant negative impact on children, exposing them to risks or failing to nurture them adequately. Nevertheless, digital experiences also potentially yield enormous benefits for children, enabling them to learn, to create, to develop friendships, and to build worlds. While global efforts to deepen our understanding of the prevalence and impact of digital risks of harm are burgeoning – a development that is both welcome and necessary – less attention has been paid to understanding and optimizing the benefits that digital technology can provide in supporting children’s rights and their well-being. Benefits here refer not only to the absence of harm, but also to creating additional positive value. How should we recognize the opportunities and benefits of digital technology for children’s well-being? What is the relationship between the design of digital experiences – in particular, play-centred design – and the well-being of children? What guidance and measures can we use to strengthen the design of digital environments to promote positive outcomes for children? And how can we make sure that children’s insights and needs form the foundation of our work in this space? These questions matter for all those who design and promote digital experiences, to keep children safe and happy, and enable positive development and learning. These questions are particularly relevant as the world shifts its attention to emerging digital technologies and experiences, from artificial intelligence (AI) to the metaverse, and seeks to understand their impact on people and society. To begin to tackle these questions, UNICEF and the LEGO Group initiated the Responsible Innovation in Technology for Children (RITEC) project in partnership with the Young and Resilient Research Centre at Western Sydney University; the CREATE Lab at New York University; the Graduate Center, City University of New York; the University of Sheffield; the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child; and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. The research is funded by the LEGO Foundation. The partnership is an international, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral collaboration between organizations that believe the design and development of digital technology should support the rights and well-being of children as a primary objective – and that children should have a prominent voice in making this a reality. This project’s primary objective is to develop, with children from around the world, a framework that maps how the design of children’s digital experiences affects their well-being, and to provide guidance as to how informed design choices can promote positive well-being outcomes.

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