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Research Article  |   July 2004
Children’s Work: The Less-Considered Childhood Occupation
Author Affiliations
  • Elizabeth A. Larson, PhD, OTR, is Assistant Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2180 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53706; blarson@education.wisc.edu
Article Information
Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Rehabilitation, Participation, and Disability / Supporting Children in Their Work
Research Article   |   July 2004
Children’s Work: The Less-Considered Childhood Occupation
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2004, Vol. 58, 369-379. doi:10.5014/ajot.58.4.369
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, July/August 2004, Vol. 58, 369-379. doi:10.5014/ajot.58.4.369
Abstract

Children’s work has largely been overlooked by researchers of many disciplines due to sociohistorical trends that fostered the notion that childhood should be a time free of work. Likewise, it has received little attention in occupational therapy most likely due to the influence of these historical developments on occupational therapy rhetoric and values. This paper begins by describing the influence of child labor laws and reformation on children’s participation in work. Next, using a comprehensive review of the literature gathered from social sciences, a critical examination of the historical and current research on children’s work is provided. This synthesis is framed in concepts of occupational science analyzing the evidence that describes the nature, form, function, and meaning of children’s work. For occupational therapists working with children with disabilities, this research provides beginning guidelines for occupation-based work interventions and typical expectations for nondisabled children that may be applied using clinical reasoning to populations with disabilities.