Researching childhood, step 1… what is childhood?

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My journey to university as a mature student has been really interesting, I’m just beginning my second year.

Before I began this degree I was really interested in children and childhood. Most specifically I was interested in the way we connect with them and the way we discipline them.  I found myself exploring the way children learn, the way we teach and guide them, the way we interact with them and treat them. I found blogs written by inspiring mums who wanted to share their latest revelation in connecting with their children.  Play activities they’d come up with or things they’d done to their gardens to create more opportunities for fun. Mostly though, I discovered something known as “Positive Parenting”, which revolutionised the quality of the relationships in our home and fed into all aspects of our lives as a family. I will write more about that another time.

As I worked through my first year discovering the importance of using evidence based information and credible sources for my essays, there were times when I wondered whether all of the positive parenting techniques I was discovering would turn out be fallacies.

I’m surprised, pleased and quite relieved to find that so many core messages from the positive parenting movement (also known as gentle parenting and peaceful parenting) along with the emotional parenting blogs written straight from the hearts of Mums around the globe are underpinned by research and evidence.

I find myself transfixed in lectures, coming away not only with my lecture notes but with a list of new questions I want to find answers to, and ideas I want to follow up. I’m full of inspiration on a really interesting journey of discovery… the only thing that holds me back is time.

Oh how I wish I had more time!

There are not enough hours in the day to learn all the things I’d like to learn, while trying to be the mum I’d like to be, while having clean clothes and meals to eat.  It’s taken me a whole year to make this first blog post.

This post is inspired by the first essay I wrote last year.  I had originally intended to post my essays as part of this blog, however my tutors advised me to use academia.edu (a website for academics to share their research) in order to avoid plagiarism.

I’ve done as they suggested however when I pressed upload I felt out of place. A tiny learner fish in a giant pond filled with knowledgeable and informed academics. Yet I really want to share the things I’m learning, so here goes…

Last year was all about putting the foundations of understanding in place for this degree in Childhood Studies. So where would we begin, if not by analysing and breaking down our understanding of what a child is and what childhood is.  This appeared simple at first, until we began to unpick it.

This essay caused me to look at my own definition of a child and lead me to the realisation that children do not all experience childhood the same.  That seems obvious now that I’m writing it down here. At the time though, it was a huge revelation to realise that a child’s experience of childhood and the age at which they cease to be a child and enter the world of adulthood can be so vastly different, depending on where they are born, when they are born and to whom they are born.

You can read my essay here. I’ll post future ones here too – you might need to log in but I think you can do it via Facebook. All of my sources are referenced at the end if you’re interested in following anything up further.

I hope to write again soon!

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