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Why Friendship, Connection and Safety are Vital To Children's Development

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Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others.

Written by: Early Educational Advisor - Jo Harris  

There will be some extremely important days and milestones that lay ahead as our country begins to lift some of the restrictions due to the COVID pandemic and children start to return to school and social interactions with their friends and family. 

For many children they are anxious to return to school based learning. Ready to reunite with their friends and teachers, and to enjoy being together again through shared learning experiences. 

Free to pick up where they left off, and to forge new chapters of friendship. 

Having the skill to choose your own friends takes time and is dependent upon a few key factors, including which stage of development children are at.

Between birth and up to two years of age, children are mostly content to interact with trusted adults to have their primary needs met, forming close bonds of trust.

From about two years children may still spend play time independently discovering their world, before they are cognitively aware of the desire to interact with peers.

Curiosity of the wider environment, and observing other children becomes more interesting before children start to show interest in parallel play, where children can be sharing the same activity alongside one another, but remain largely focused on their own experience.

Much of children's early social experience and exchange with their peers begins roughly around three to four years of age, as they begin to show interest in not only similar activities, but the children playing with them also.

Each year a theme is selected that is celebrated nationally each October from one of the articles of the United Nations Convention on the rights of a child.

 

‘Children’s Week celebrates the right of 

children to enjoy childhood’

 

The theme for 2021 is ‘Children have the right to choose their own friends and safely connect with others’; is a timely reminder of how imperative it is as children navigate their path back to the familiarity of their formal schooling and education. 

Whichever stage of their education they are currently at, and the next to come, it provides a welcome opportunity for children to fully participate in not only their cognitive learning but also their social and emotional development, through engagement with others.

COVID learning has meant that there has been a need for constant adaptation in order for children to continue to interact with others, often via digital platforms, challenging their emergent abilities to learn and practice their relationship skills.

Every state and territory arranges events and activities that celebrate children, their rights and achievements’ throughout early childhood services, schools, local community services and groups.

There are many free resources and more information is available to assist in planning events to celebrate the joy of childhood and to continue raising awareness about the importance of this for children throughout the world, often found in your local government areas.

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