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Work of the child leads to self-construction

Think about your child. What do you see her doing?

A myriad of activities – waving her arms and feet, pulling up and standing, rolling over the bed, trying to climb the sofa on her own, walking on a thin border of the jogging track with utmost focus, lying down on the grass and looking up at the trees… so many of such playful activities. This play is actually the ‘Work of the Child’.

No one has to tell the child what she has to do. What the next milestone is for her to achieve. Nature has a plan for the child and the work of the child is the path to her development. This process of development; psychological and physical is what is referred to here as, self-construction.

The work of a child is of a very superior quality which needs a lot of nurturance from her external environment. The child is constantly working at constructing her physical and psychological self.

Physical Self-Construction

This tiny human being in our care builds herself physically and we can all see that, with great marvel in our eyes. Her first flip, her first instance siting without support, her first step, her first jump – we wonder at this beautiful work done by the child –we often record it – in our minds and on our devices. Why do we have the need to store this as a beautiful memory? Innately, we all know that this is entirely the child’s work. Her construction of her physical body.

Any kind of scaffold seems to just call the infant who is trying to walk!

Psychological Self-Construction

The physical self-construction is easy to notice. The psychological self-construction of the child is also a relentless process however it’s slightly unobvious to our eyes.

Following are the different psychological aspects that are being constructed by the child:

  • Construction of the Intellect
  • Construction of the social persona
  • Construction of emotional intelligence
  • Construction of their moral values
  • Construction of their Spiritual/Philosophical being
  • Their overall likes, dislikes, temperament, self-control, self-esteem, work habits etc.
  • Construction of their creative abilities

The child’s exploration knows no bounds! Any object ordinary for us adults can hold great marvel for the child. Only freedom can allow this exploration

We, as caregiver, spend a lot of time choosing the right school which will teach our children all of the above when they are 3 years old or so – however, their foundation is built before that. A good school merely presents an opportunity for sharpening of these creative abilities based on the above said foundation.

To take an example of children’s activity that most of us have noticed. A toddler is often seen saying ‘No’ or opposing in other ways to various proposals by care-givers. It is looked at as a problem and even termed as ‘Terrible Twos’. It’s seen as ‘problem years’ by many. Now let’s look at it in the light of psychological self-construction.

Typically by age 2 years, the child achieves a lot of physical independence and can move about on her own. Therefore, encounters many new situations in life. At that point, they suddenly start encountering many “new” human beings regularly. And the social self-construction takes a big step forward. Toddlers saying ‘No’ and ‘pushing limits’ in many interactions are their ways of ‘testing social boundaries’.  This is the phase of their exploration. They experiment. This is their way of finding out what’s ‘acceptable’ and what’s ‘not acceptable’ in the environment that they are a part of.

If children construct themselves, then do they need adults at all?

Yes. Young children of age 0 to 6 use their Absorbent Mind as a tool and construct themselves by using materials from their environment. This happens best when they are in liberty to follow their urges. When they are given freedom. Freedom to move, act and freedom to explore and think.

Therefore, children need adults to

  • create a physical and psychological environment conducive to their development
  • protect their freedom and liberty to act on the environment
  • remove obstacles to their development

How would the caregiver know if they are creating an environment where the child is free?

It’s simple, in freedom, children and adults show the Universal Human Tendencies such as exploration, self-orientation, work, self-perfection, concentration, communication and many more helpful activities.

To know more about what a caregiver can do to help children self-construct, in the best way possible, explore the rest of our website.

There are so many beautiful aspects of self-construction of a child that are not discussed here because then it’d become a book! Therefore, if you are curious about this, we recommend you to read a book called ‘Montessori From the Start’ by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen.

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