Here we are at Life at Nine already. How quickly they grow up!
The ABC’s documentary series tracking the growth and development of a sample cross-section of Australian children only appears every two years. The two episodes of this edition are designated ‘Independence’ and ‘Creativity’. Both episodes are still available to watch online and on ABC iView.
Watching the different responses of a range of children to classic cognitive development experiments is always fascinating, but it’s also great to have a couple of broader issues about raising children highlighted. I do find the questions asked are often exactly the ones I puzzle over. How much independence is the right amount? And how much responsibility? And how much structure? I noticed that the childhood experts seemed almost shocked to find that none of the nine year olds were walking to school unaccompanied, and concerned that they were all being supervised too closely to be healthy. And yet this is exactly the age of the little girl in the USA whose mother was actually jailed for letting her play in a nearby park on her own. So, some cultural variables worth discussing, there.
The documentaries started showing eleven children, but one (LouLou) had stopped participating by Life at 7, and this time two more (Haleema and Jara’na) were not present. No mention was made of whether it was a permanent decision by the families to leave the project. Unfortunately, this means that there are now only three girls shown. Also, as Jara’na was the only child identifying as Aboriginal and I think Haleema may have been the only Muslim, we are seeing less diversity among the participants.
One thing that struck me was how very tiny, and rather endearing, acts of rebellion are at this age. Declan taking himself off to drumming lessons, for example. I adored the moment when free-thinker Shine put a yellow dot in the bottom corner of her painting, despite being told to only use black and brown. The other children were scandalised! From little things big things grow.
So who has seen it, and what did you think? How does what was discussed intersect with your own parenting.
The general discussion thread on Life at 1, 3 and 5 is HERE.
The Life at 7 discussion thread, HERE, is especially interesting because of the contribution from one of the parents participating in the study, Michelle, who generously shared some fascinating insights into the process.
The British equivalent began in 2000, and is called Child of Our Time. There are some clips and snippets of information HERE.