I was in France recently having a fab time with the kids over half term, and one night we decided to take them out to a beautiful little pizza place we know in the heart of a tiny village - packed every night of the week. Food and Frolics were great but I noticed how the young child on the table next to us was not listened or talked to all evening by her parents, who were there with another couple and their baby. The reason I noticed this was because my experience is usually the opposite in other European countries than our own (markedly different from Britain where eating out is not necessarily considered a family affair), and I began to wonder whether any one country has the perfect inter-generational culture for children.
No matter how much we think the Brits have got it right in cross-agency working or regulating to ensure safety, or the Italians have got creative environments right in early years, or the Spanish have got the festival and community culture sorted for family engagement, or the Scandanavians have got the outdoor nature and woodlands element at the heart of learning... no matter which countries have explored the options most suitable to support children within their own culture, we all still seem to be some way off getting it right.
Anyway, back to our family at the pizzeria. The girl at the next table was more interested in what my daughter was doing, but neither girl spoke the others' language. That didnt stop them communicating however, as they made each other laugh through face-pulling and the like. I still wondered why the parents were not engaging with her, until I read Lord Northbourne's response to the Good Childhood Enquiry where he talked about the importance of including children in adult conversation and culture, not necessarily having everything geared towards their own particular interests.
Didn't answer all my questions but made me think about it from a different angle. The whole House of Lords debate is an extremely useful read in fact - great to see our esteemed leaders having such a meaningful discussion. The comments from members of the public make a pretty interesting read as well!
Author Ruth Churchill Dower is the Director of Earlyarts