Now of course we can dismiss this as not-so clever marketing tactics, however, to truly think about what this says to a young child is quite significant. What if I identify myself as a boy and yet want to play with the pink bead-threading toy? Does this in some way diminish my position as a young boy? That is not to say that these internal struggles will plague the mind of young children everywhere. In fact, more worryingly, they may not know to question these things at all. They may not know that, yes, even though you are a young boy you can still learn from and enjoy the game as much as if you were not. When crafted purposefully, a range of activities and resources on offer within nursery and the home environment can promote positive engagement from both young girls and boys. Construction activities will support the Victoria Patience, BA (Hons.) Senior Early Years Educator, Salcott Crescent Nursery physical development of girls’, as much as engaging with the home corner will help strengthen young boys’ communication and language. Although a truly gender-neutral environment, one which shuns the likes of Captain America and Sleeping Beauty, is arguably not necessary, being mindful of how we promote positive representations of gender which are available to all children is important. Thinking ahead For many young children gender is not a consciously important part of who they are; they just are a girl or a boy. How they identify themselves is developed over time, based on influences from their surroundings. Therefore, the active role we play as parents, families and professionals can be significant in shaping the freedom within which children feel comfortable to develop a certain sense of self. Engaging young children in a way which values their contributions and supports their development is key to effective learning, as well as the key to nurturing happy, resilient young minds! You only need look at the beautiful curiosity of all children leading their play at nursery and home to see how, when uninhibited by the limitations of stereotypes, young children will engage with everything that sparks their fascination! Let us, as the ones responsible for the nurture of young children, continue to offer engaging activities which do not limit but extend the possibilities of who children identify themselves as being.
Parenting Matters Spring 17 HIGH RES
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