Participatory Methods for Children and Young People


Motivating young people to engage in participation

Participation is an essential aspect in teaching young people about democracy, responsibility, and self-determination. In the face of so many different on and offline leisure activities, Participation for Children and Young People needs to be fun and make sense in the eyes of these kids. Topics should be self-determined or have a direct connection to their lives. Projects must also take place over a manageable time period.

For these projects, the nexus Institute adapts its established methods to its (younger) audience. Methods such as the Future Workshop, Idea Contest, Citizens’ Exhibition, World Café, Planning Cells, and Mobile Participation are redesigned to motivate young people and provide direct and concrete results.

Participatory Methods for Children and Young People at a Glance:

  • Fun and sensible age-appropriate participation
  • Classic and modern participatory methods for a younger group of participants
  • Tried and true methods for this age group
  • Stimulation of creativity and a strengthening of team building
  • Learning opportunities in the subjects of participation, engagement, and democracy


Online and mobile youth participation, Projekt EUth, for the EU-Kommision, 2015-2018

Evaluation of the online youth participation in the project „youthpart“ for the Fachstelle für Internationale Jungendarbeit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e. V. (IJAB), 2013-2014

Participatory playground planning in the project Partizipation Tempelhofer Freiheit for the Grün Berlin GmbH and the Tempelhof Projekt GmbH, 2013

Idea Contests and World Cafés in the project Jugend mit Perspektive for the Bundesministerium des Innern, 2012

Participatory youth contest for Ideen säen – Zukunft ernten“ for the Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz (BMELV), 2010

Future Workshops and participatory youth contest for „Visionen für Regionen“ for the Stiftung Demokratische Jugend, 2007-2009

Workshops for the youth-organized Citizens’ Exhibition in the program "Brandenburg – Das bist du uns wert", for the Stiftung Demokratische Jugend, 2007-2008 


The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Seniors, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend) (2015) has put forth quality standards for youth participation. These standards include: transparency, clarity about the scope of decision-making power, sufficient resources, quick implementation of results, qualifications, personal gain and acknowledgment for the participants, methods which are attractive for and oriented towards the target group, and evaluation and documentation.

Many political decisions affect children in particular (e.g. the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Code of Social Law VIII, the Code of Building Law, municipal codes, and laws on child day care); and children should have an opportunity to participate in these decision-making processes at a level which is appropriate for their age group. People who engage in participatory processes at a young age are more likely to engage inparticipatory processes as adults. The participatory process must therfore be of high quality and allow the children to feel the effects of their participation. This will motivate children to take on responsibliity and continue to take part in participatory processes into adulthood.

The nexus Institute takes these quality standards into account in all phases of participation planning from the conception to the implementation, documentation, and evaluation of the process. In addition, nexus pays particular attention to implementing participation on issues which directly effect the children in question. In this sense, kids are no different than adults: They are interested in participating in, contributing to, and determining decisions which effect their present and future; and they also want to have their voices heard.

Youth participation is required by law in many sectors; however, the laws are usually unclear about how children and young people should participate. The nexus Institute helps actors choose appropiate participatory methods in order to ensure that quality standards of youth participation are met.


Böhm, Birgit (2016): Anspruch und Wirklichkeit partizipativer Methoden – Plädoyer für eine Partizipationskultur. Vortrag auf der Tagung „Wir können auch anders … mit Methode, Technik, Strategie“ der Landesvereinigung für Gesundheit und Akademie für Sozialmedizin Niedersachsen e.V., 27.01.2016, Hannover. [Zugriff 28.07.2016] und [Zugriff 28.07.2016].

Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (2015): Für ein kindergerechtes Deutschland! Qualitätsstandards für Beteiligung von Kindern und Jugendlichen.,property=pdf,bereich=bmfsfj,sprache=de,rwb=true.pdf [Zugriff 28.07.2016]

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