Multiple Childhood

Children have represented the future prolongation of our societies and therefore have been taught to replicate the material and intellectual conditions that are considered to survival. How we think and understand children matters inordinately because our views and theories affect how societies engage with children in day to day practice.


Yet, what is childhood?

The dictionary definition of Webster continues by “the early period in development of something”. It can be argued that childhood is that stage in life that is accessed by adults retrospectively, a beautiful experience that can be tapped through memory which is then – conceptualized by several layers viz. parents, social groups, kin-groups…

Several sociologists of childhood have affirmed that childhood is a structural category alongside with others, may be social class, ethnic origin, gender etc. To what extent have we considered the interaction of those different variables and their influence on how childhood is represented in different cultures and contexts?

Multiple childhood on other hand refers to different kind of childhood seen through various parameters as:

  1. Differently able children
  2. Economically backward children
  3. Survival of child abuse
  4. Child labor

Also, research into child poverty have provided a change in our understandings as we begin to listen more to the views of children. The research has been more quantitative giving us figures (based on analysis of statistics). For instance, we have been concerned with the number of children living below poverty lines. So acknowledging diverse childhood is essential.


Even the definition of “who” is a “child” can produce major differences of opinions or perceptions. Some of the problems that arise as methodological or psychological turn around the puzzle of children’s subjectivity. Multiple childhood is still indeterminate for teachers and educators. More and more practical and conceptualized approach for better understanding has to be lifted up. Further, the various cultural and intellectual perspectives on the nature of childhood need to be addressed as well, in order to engage with the questions: “what” is childhood, “who” is a child? 

Understanding Children


Today was my first day at “Apna school – PS Manjud, Chamba, T.G” (My school as we call it i.e. The Primary School, PS) and as usual the experience was very good. Today was something different, as past two days I was asked by the Head Teacher of PS Manjud, Chamba to teach children, but today I sat down with a copy and pen just to learn how the teachers are teaching and learn the basic environment of children and their mind-set towards mine.

 I somehow observed the playful environment of children and tried to understand their basic psychology towards everything.

Basic psychology of children

Understanding the basic psychology is very difficult while I got nearly 10% of it and will learn the rest while I progress more on the school visits. It’s quite interesting at the same time to understand what a child goes through of what s/he sees.

For instance, some children were looking at me when I was penning down the activities and some were hanging on my hands as a playful activity. So, it’s quite interesting as in: some children were happy, some were a bit serious seeing me and my observation as since two days I was playing with them, so it was a bit strange – for them!

Session with the children: A poem recitation

Post lunch, I sat with the children and asked them to recite any poem or any story whatever they liked. Kaajal – a 4th standard student told “hare and the tortoise”. Everyone supported with some actions in telling the story and we also enjoyed a lot.

I too recalled a poem “Johny Johny” and recited it with some of the actions – as far as, I could act. They knew what actions should follow the poem so I was interrupted in between by saying – “Nikhil Sir, you are doing the action wrong i.e. for eating sugar, you should bring a sugar plate” that was a quick laugh as I could recall and I laughed till the end.

I also recalled “Machli jal ki rani hai” (Fish: The queen of water) and somehow succeeded in remembering the latter lines of the poem and did the actions without any problem. The children laughed a little but later they also formed a group next to me and said Sir once again and one another poem. So, what I did next was took their book and recited another story and thought to be a storyteller for some time with actions and drama – a little bit for all I could act.

It was actually a fun seeing all the children enjoying with me and sitting next to me like a panchayat in a village. It felt very good. For some time, I thought am I reciting/telling anything wrong? But no, I wasn’t correct! I was telling them the stories with that eager that something might happen next, so that was the zeal amongst all the children.

The teachers also witnessed how the children got engaged and encircled me like a parent. They told me – that’s a good idea to be with the children and getting them engaged.

Copyright © Nikhil Kundu