11 September 2009

Work, play and learning in the lives of young children

'What about the youngest children - where do they fit in? Samantha Punch carried out a detailed study of children's work in Churquiales, a small rural community in Southern Bolivia. By three or four years old, children were already fetching water, collecting firewood, going on errands, feeding ducks and chickens, scaring birds from crops, picking peas and beans, peeling maize stalks and harvesting peaches. As children got older they progressed onto more complex, physically demanding and responsible tasks...

Punch concludes
Even from an early age children carry out some tasks independently and they should not be seen purely as helpers but active contributors in their own right. Their unpaid work not only benefits the household ... but also increases their sense of autonomy, enabling them to gain skills and competencies useful for their individual independence. (2001:818)
...From a Western perspective, child work is viewed as a potential threat to children's welfare and development. The expression 'child labour' is frequently used, which has connotations of exploitation and harm. From his research among the Abaluyia of Kenya, Weisner (1989) notes that parents may hold a quite contrary view. Children's work is seen as valuable, not just in preparing them for their adult roles, but serving an essential function as a form of emotional and social support, integrating children into a family and community network that places high value on interdependence and interconnectedness...

[In Europe and North America] most young children's activities are interpreted within the dominant discourse of 'play' and 'learning'. From the children's point of view they are experienced as attempts to contribute, as small examples of 'work'.'
Work, play and learning in the lives of young children
Martin Woodhead

In: Psychological Development and Early Childhood by John Oates, Clare Wood and Andrew Grayson, The Open University 2005, pages 41-46

March 2009

*The inspiration for Conscious Friday comes from Se'Lah at Necessary Room.


  1. Sunny boy strikes me as a very thoughtful little kid...

  2. Good stuff!! Just when I think I've been enlightened.. more comes from you! Glad to have a chance to stop by...finally!

  3. always precious, our little sunnyboy

  4. I so enjoyed all these posts abut children and work. So fascinating and you and Sunnyboy are so inspirational. Thank you xx

  5. ah as I mentioned in the previous post.