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Friday, 18 October 2013

Is our impatience the reason children aren't developing as quickly as they could?

Modern society does expect that children are supervised more closely than they once used to be, they can't walk to school or the shops on their own or play in the woods on their own, there even seems to be a general consensus that getting dirty, picking up worms and slugs and beetles is somehow wrong or dangerous. Yet we are willing to let children play video games or watch TV unsupervised for hours on end, I would argue that a child will far more easily come to harm, perhaps not physically, but harm nonetheless in-front of computers and TV than outside.

As important as an element of freedom is in the life of any child there are occasions when children need supervision, of course there are, but I think too often they are given safe things to do so that we can get on with our busy lives, the ironing needs doing, dinner cooking or a report for work needs finishing or maybe we just want to update our facebook status, so what could be easier than plonking a child down in-front of a cartoon for a couple of hours. But surely they would benefit from being given some 'hard' tasks to accomplish under our supervision that they would really benefit from, if only we had the patience to provide that supervision. I really feel strongly that children should not be denied opportunities to do these things because we don't have the time or can't be bothered to supervise them. Surely our children would develop skills such as hazard perception, dexterity, self reliance and confidence, to name but a few, if we helped and supervised them and then let them do these 'grown up things'.

If only we had the patience to provide appropriate supervision where required we might find that they develop skills which might nowadays be considered beyond the grasp of a younger child; the picture bellow illustrates this perfectly.

This is a picture of an 11 month old Efe baby in the Democratic Republic of Congo cutting fruit with a machete (Rogoff 2003 pg6)

References;

nRogoff B. (2003) The Cultural Nature of Human Development. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

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