We are working our way through Martin Large’s “Set Free Childhood”, published by Hawthorn Press. We are in Chapter 3, “The Secrets of Childhood Development.”
The author writes, “Parents can benefit from access to practical knowledge about what helps healthy child growth and development, so as both to back up their own good sense, and also to cope with the relentlessly increasing pressures in modern culture. Such pressures include the withering-away of the extended family – with relatives and grandparents typically no longer living nearby. Gone, then, are our traditional support networks; and a smaller family means that you no longer learn childcare at your parents’ or neighbours’ knees.” (page 34)
Support is so important in raising small children; and so is slowing down. One of the main tenets of this chapter is that children are suffering from stress because they are being hurried, rushed and feel overwhelmed and busy. The work of psychologist David Elkind noticed this tendency of hurried children and has written extensively about this; where children are forced to take on adult schedules and treated as miniature adults. In order to combat this, the author takes us on a tour of healthy child development by age.
Children need time and space to grow. Childhood goes through phases. The baby is noted to be completely open to noise, bright lights, rough movement, rough handling. The baby is a giant sense organ and totally dependent upon the care of the parents and the home environment provided. As time goes on, an infant learns to filter sensory impressions, progresses from horizontal movement to vertical movement. Infants do not need television or screens to develop. What they need is to move, to be held and cuddled, and to have a parent who delights in them and plays with them.
A toddler learns through incredible powers of imitation. They are intrepid explorers experiencing the world through all of their senses. The first three years of life sees a child learning to walk, to speak, and to think. Language emerges through contact with real speaking human beings – not those in a screen.
There is some great information about up through age 11 or so, and then a little section about screens and the temperaments. I think the temperament section I will save for the next post in this series.