RECLAIMING CHILDHOOD: Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented Society

William C. Crain, Author . Times Books $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7154-2

As a developmental psychologist (Theories of Development: Concepts and Applications), Crain is deeply concerned that a societal emphasis on pushing children too hard to succeed is robbing them of creative, joyful childhoods. The widespread parental obsession, for example, with getting their children into good colleges has, in part, led to an educational system that promotes mastering academic skills and test-taking at the expense of the arts. Drawing on current research and the developmental theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Maria Montessori, John Dewey, Noam Chomsky and others, Crain convincingly argues that children have a natural affinity for drama, nature, art and poetry—all of which are necessary to their development and should be encouraged by a "child-centered" rather than an "adult-directed" approach to raising children. He includes many strategies for child-centered parenting, such as making an effort to provide children with opportunities for experiencing the natural world and being careful to appreciate rather than trying to improve on a child's poem or drawing. This is a thoughtful plea for parents to focus on the quality of life that children can have now rather than on their future achievements. Illus. not seen by PW. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/04/2002
Release date: 02/01/2003
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