New Zealand has faced an unprecedented series of disaster events in recent years. The Canterbury earthquakes provided an opportunity to document the role that schools played in supporting their communities to respond to and recover from such events. It is important that we capture what we have learnt from these experiences to help other schools in the future. This article discusses the researcher’s experience of working with three school communities following the Canterbury earthquakes. This led to a conceptual model of children’s participation in research. The model highlights the ways in which adults frame children’s participation and how this shapes the research design. The article argues that we need to be more aware of how adult perceptions enhance or limit children’s authentic participation in research-based and other decision-making activities.