The Formative Years: Are These the Years that Matter?
By Justin Chippendale
Some sensible person once observed: “Give me the child until they’re seven and I’ll give you the man”.
Aristotle’s quote is one very dear to my heart here at King’s Hall School as we guide, support and nurture children from the ages of two to thirteen.
The impact factors that surround a young child are crucial. My extensive experience of witnessing these in action has given me years of proof, watching as children’s core characteristics have been, and continue to be, crafted, created and moulded. It is worth acknowledging, of course, that there is much time ahead after the age of seven to develop specific skills and talents. There is still plenty of time to absorb great tomes of knowledge, to learn from experience and embrace new opportunities – indeed we wish to encourage lifelong learners and implant a sense of adaptability for the world ahead – but the core, fundamental ABCs of our ‘Attitudes, Behaviours and Cultures’ that make us who we are and determine our approach to the world around us, are embedded at this time.
In my opinion seven is probably a touch early, and I would suggest that the hard wiring of our ABCs isn’t fully complete until nine or ten years of age, but they are undeniably being forged and locked in for the several years leading up to that age. The quote refers to how important early childhood influences are to the development of character. Any early child development specialist would agree the most essential and lasting aspects of a child's relationship to the world are all decided unconsciously based on the child's interactions with its physical and emotional environment. Is the world a safe place? Is it a good place? Am I lovable? Am I worthy? Do I have something to add? Am I valued?
At King’s Hall, we create physical and emotional environments full of security, exploration, encouragement, joyfulness, appropriate risk, discovery, freedom to fall and not be judged, empowerment, challenge, curiosity, excitement and collaboration. Such a powerful cocktail that a child is fully immersed in positive ABCs means they cannot help but breathe them in and sweat them out as they build an unshakeable confidence in who they are and how they feel about themselves.
Cementing a level of comfort in themselves to ensure the creation of their best selves, to go on and share themselves with the world and offer their talents for the benefit of those around them is all driven by the indefatigable ABCs, which were formed by the impact factors of their first decade.
Published on: Tuesday, November 20, 2018