Rather than being seen as simply a preparation for adulthood, childhood is a necessary stage of our lives that not only contributes significantly to our health and well-being for the rest of our lives but should in and of itself be a time of excitement, freedom, creative play and joyful challenge.
What the children say
"My whole family has always said to me 'Enjoy your childhood, because when you get older, you have to pay bills' "- Breanna, age 11
"Friends will be your family in the future Amelia" - age 11
What the research says
Research shows a link between play and the development of cognitive and social skills that are prerequisites for learning more complex concepts as children get older. For example, play is linked to growth in memory, self-regulation, oral language, recognising symbols, higher levels of school adjustment and increased social development.
The Importance of Play: Why Children Need to Play (2005)
Start them thinking
Are children born happy?
Does childhood end at different times for different people?
Do all animals have a version of 'childhood'?
Do you think there are adults who wish they were children again?
Do ants have more freedom than children?
Would childhood be better if you didn't have to go to school?
What we say
‘Nearly 25 years ago, the world made a promise to children: that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential.’ This is how UNICEF describes the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is a document that enshrines the idea that all children have the right to a childhood. We agree.
Write a letter from your adults self with advice on being a child.
Create a 'Museum of Childhood' with toys, games, clothes and other artifacts.
Have community members come and talk about their childhood from different times, different countries and cultures.
What You've Been Up To So Far:
So far we've taken an essential childhood experience - nettles - and shown the children another side to the plant: how they feed caterpillars, support the ecosystem and also brewed fresh nettle tea over the campfire for the children to taste.
We have considered children in other parts of the world - what they might be doing at any certain moment, how their lives might be similar or different to our own.
We watched a clip from Little Human Planet to find out about the different homes that children and families share across the world, and thought about where we might like to live as adults if we could choose anywhere
The story of Handa's Surprise gave us an insight into one aspect of everyday childhood in rural Kenya
We spent time enjoying our natural surroundings just as they are (our nursery motto is 'Growing Up Naturally'), so we think it's really important to give children plenty of time and space to enjoy being who they are rather than always worrying about what's coming next
Next week we will visit the medieval Tithe Barn in our village and think about children who have been there in the past. What would they have been doing? What would they have played? What would their lives have been like? Could they have guessed that we'd be thinking about them in 2017? We'll draw silhouettes around the children's bodies and leave them at the barn to show that we have remembered the people who you can no longer see in the barn.