Individual or organisation, join our growing global movement and help us prevent the erosion of natural childhood and the undermining of our societies.
How can we do it right?
Five principles to encourage healthy child development
1 Respect the Rights of the Child
2 Acknowledge the vital importance of Natural Development
3 Trust the Child as a Natural Learner
4 Enable Independence
5 Appreciate the impact of the Child’s Environment
1) Respect the rights of young Children as individuals with their own unique needs
Don’t push too much; let them go at their pace. Not all children develop the same way at the same time. A child can be a ‘late bloomer’…then suddenly be ready to master a skill as soon as they are ready. They will get there in the end! Pushing a child too soon before they are ready can have a detrimental effect (ie. make them associate learning with negative feelings, power struggle, etc). To a child, work is play and play is work.
2) Acknowledge human tendencies and different ways of learning
These include but are not limited to a need for order, independence, exploration, social interaction and love. Provide real, first hand experiences; you only get a true sense of an apple from touching, seeing, smelling and tasting one. And importantly, allow time for your child to explore the environment in his or her own way.
3) Trust Children as Natural Learners
Children are born wired to learn and have an in-built teacher that guides them to what they need and when in order to develop to the fullest. This innate desire needs to be cultivated, rather than taught (plants are a great analogy). Become a keen observer; children will tell you through their words and actions what they need and when. Follow them as co-learners.
4) Enable Independence
Help them to help themselves by providing freedom within limits. This is the freedom to choose, to take time, to move and to be. Model desired behaviours. Allow children to learn from their mistakes in ways that promote healthy dispositions and mind-sets. Provide opportunities for risk-taking and learning from failure. Validate effort rather than only rewarding results.
5) The Environment is a major factor in the healthy development of children
This encompasses the adults that a child interacts with, the safety and aesthetics of their homes, the classrooms that they learn in, the children that they spend time with, the influences of the larger community and the values and beliefs that are expressed through the wider political and cultural background. Through their emotions and senses young children literally absorb what goes around them and build their personalities through their on-going meaning-making and experiences.
Have faith in the natural development of the child. Sow the seeds and leave them free to develop.
FACT: the skills our children will need for the 21st century are: creativity, resilience, endurance, confidence, adaptability, and the ability to learn independently & continuously throughout life.