Ten Pillars of a Good Childhood - Page 3
|Ten Pillars of a Good Childhood|
Pillar 3: Social interactions and friendships
As children begin to move away from the parental influence, at age 3 to 4 years, they benefit from a variety of activities with peers. They develop the skills needed for sociability and intimacy, form relationships, and gain a sense of belonging.
Unfortunately, bullying has become a big problem in Finnish schools, as elsewhere. Bullying carries high developmental risks for the bullies and their victims, who may suffer long-lasting depression.
During the Decade for Childhood, effective interventions, such as the KiVa antibullying program (Kärnä et al., 2011) developed in Finland, should be implemented to eliminate bullying from schools.
Pillar 4: Creative play and physical activity
Play is children’s way of expanding their knowledge of the physical world, their ability to communicate with peers, their understanding of themselves and others, and their imagination. In Finnish early education (up to the age of 7), creative play and physical activity traditionally have occupied most of children’s time. Parents and other educators provide opportunities and simple toys for playing indoors and outdoors.
Physical activity is necessary for all kinds of development. In the recent book Improving the Quality of Childhood in Europe 20123, Sally Goddard Blythe (2012) notes the growing body of evidence which indicates that an increasing number of children are entering formal education lacking the physical skills which are necessary to support all aspects of formal education. These children are at risk of under-achieving and/or developing various social or behavioral problems unless this immaturity is recognized and addressed. (p. 19)
In countries where formal teaching in preschools starts at the age of 3 to 5, the role of creative play and physical activity is often reduced to a minimum. During the Decade for Childhood, more time should be provided for creative play and physical activity. Also, more attention should be paid to the fact that many children spend more time watching TV and other screens than they do in school. Aric Sigman (2012) argues that the early age at which children start watching screen media and the high number of daily hours they watch have negative effects on both their physical health and their psychological well-being, irrespective of the so-called “quality” of the screen material.