Children live and act from their hearts until they are told differently. A child is forever telling their world around them of their love; little physical gestures, a picture, doing a chore unasked… The list is long. If you pay attention to this, and see the child and her efforts, she will stay loving and generous. All children need to be seen, not because they are children, but because they are people who will become adults. Biologically a child needs to be seen to survive, not only on an emotional level, but also physical; a child who is seen will be fed and cared for. The worst thing that can happen to a child is indifference.
If you are indifferent to a child and forget to pay attention to their communication they will try another way, usually the opposite, by becoming obnoxious, loud and aggressive. This kind of behaviour always attracts attention, and the child got what it wanted – even though it is not positive: A seen child is fed and cared for. This stretches all the way back to our origins. We might have evolved but our basic needs are still the same.
Children are constantly hungry for knowledge; they are forever asking why, what is that, how does it function. They learn and remember easily and effortlessly, because usually what they want to know is connected to understanding their world. A child will always learn from her level of need. I have seen children teach themselves to read, swim, ride, count and much more, only from curiosity and need. Still society seems to believe that if children are not trained according to the “rules” of schooling, they will grow up to be uneducated imbeciles!
Often children are forced into a pattern of learning that does not fit with their development or skills and they feel stupid. A child who feels stupid either gives up or fights. A child learns while in movement, still we force them to sit still. A child can hold concentration for a maximum of 20 minutes, how many minutes does a class last? Children need to move constantly through the day, yet the sit and sit for hours.
We are guides for our children, our job is to back them up on their journey to becoming adults, not to tell them what to do. Children, more often than not, have a much stronger sense for right and wrong than do adults and their world is non-judgemental and caring.
I heard about this school: Sudbury Valley School where the whole learning process is built on children’s ability to “get what they need”. Take a look and prepare yourself to be most impressed by their work.