Are we remembering to prioritize children's physical development?
In making decisions on behalf of children, are we thinking about the potential benefits of a course of action, or only the drawbacks of another course of action? In putting so much emphasis on rushing young children to engage in formal learning are we neglecting their physical development, and therefore possibly affecting their ability to develop strong and healthy relationships with their bodies?
Many of us spent significant time in physical activities throughout our childhoods. The world was considered less dangerous, we were given more freedom and we spent more time outside. When we look at the incidence of personal issues such as obesity, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self-harming, and dissolution of relationships, do we ever consider the possible relationship between these concerns and a level of disconnect with our physical selves? If our generation is plagued by these problems, how might a generation that are often confined to apartments, desks and ipads fare?
The Framework gives consideration to the physical, emotional, social, cognitive and even the spiritual needs of children. I think we need to reflect further before placing value on any particular one above the other. Children begin life aware of little but their physical selves. To babies a happy body means happy emotions. Their entire wellbeing depends on their physical needs being met. As they become toddlers their priorities are testing their physical abilities, learning to trust their bodies in the physical space, becoming physically strong and confident, and learning that they can affect their own physical safety.
As preschoolers some children are still grappling with physical confidence, risk-taking, strength and coordination. Are we going to suddenly say, "Stop! That's enough playing. It's time to learn now. I want you to write your name / draw a cat / show me the yellow triangle"? We're worrying that children won't cope with the learning part of school. Think about the numerous benefits of having confidence in, and respect for your physical self. Why are we not concerned that children won't cope with this part of life?
Being in the present is considered one of the keys to happiness, and how can anything really be more important than being happy? Being connected to the natural, physical and social worlds through our senses is being truly alive and truly aware. We want our children to be truly aware and to be able to meet their lives with confidence. Awareness, health and physical functioning will surely lead to mental functioning. Being connected through their bodies to environments, objects and people will mean that children will be able to embrace their lives in balanced and fully-functional ways.