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Kanak Prabha Jain and Pallavi Bhat: DEMOCRACY FOR THE YOUNGEST CHILD (0 TO 3 YEARS)

Presentation Abstract

The goal of this presentation is that adults can start seeing this young child in a different light. The child should not be seen as a helpless dependent being. On the contrary, he is an industrious worker who listens to his inner guide (Horme). All his work is purposeful. As adults we need to be observant of what the child’s needs are, and support him accordingly.

Democracy for this young child entails:

Freedom to work
Freedom to express
Follow minimal ground rules to maintain order.

Freedom to work means the child can do the activity uninterruptedly for as long as he wants to. The two most important works for the child at this age are movement development and language development. The focus of this presentation is freedom of movement. The various obstacles for movement development include, but are not limited to: swaddling, equipment like playpens and prams, cots, pacifiers and obstructive clothing.
Dr.Silvanna Montanaro says, “Even though it is true that sooner or later, all children learn to coordinate their movements, it should be understood that any obstruction to free movement, specially in the first year of life, can have serious psychological consequences, that may compromise the harmonious development of the personality.”
Democracy entails division of responsibilities. The responsibility of the adult is to prepare the environment, observe the children in the environment, and to modify it to the ever changing needs of the child. The role of the child is to do purposeful work, driven by his inner guide.
The role of the adult is of utmost importance. She has to actively build an environment that caters to the needs of the child, yet be a passive observer when the child is engaged with the environment. She must treat the child with immense respect and trust. She must provide enough opportunities for the child to practice and refine his movement skills for as long as he wishes to. The adult should intervene in the child’s work only when the child’s action is hurtful to his own self, to others or to the environment.
For a child thus brought up in a democratic environment, he becomes an incarnation of democracy itself. These children, when they become adults have the power and will to transform the world into a more beautiful space.