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Documentary Review - The Beginning of Life (2016)

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Background

This documentary, entitled “The Beginning of Life” was released in June 2016 with the support of UNICEF, and features parents and children from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Italy, Kenya, and the United States.  Gisele Bundchen, the wife of the New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and the mother of two children, was interviewed concerning her own experiences with motherhood.

                                                

Gisele Bundchen

                                                 Supermodel Gisele Bundchen - Wikimedia

Introduction

The thrust of the film centers around the belief that effective early child development takes place when a tot feels nurtured, cared for, protected, and loved.  When all of these key elements are present in the formative years of your offspring's life, he/she has the best possible chance of developing fully.  There is evidence that learning occurs as early as life in the womb.  Cognitive, social and emotional development coalesce to achieve maximum results.  It is important to note that the social environment is as important as genetics in influencing a person’s development.

The Beginning of Life

The film opens with the sight of a baby being born in water in the presence of its father.  It goes on to state that the struggle in the birth canal is life’s first challenge.  By three years of age, a toddler can walk and talk.  He is engaged in deception at that early age, as well as empathy for others.

                                               

Newborn Baby
                                       

                                                           Newborn Baby - Wikimedia

The Learning Process

Scientists once thought that babies were irrational beings, even blank slates.  Instead, they are the best scientists and the best learners that we have in the universe.  They have trouble not paying attention.  They are constantly taking in information to help them solve problems.  They are busy understanding how predictable their world is.  They may drop a spoon just to get the mother’s reaction. Children who have high self-esteem are able to take more risks.  They try to climb, to feed themselves.  It is the caretaker’s job to make a youngster feel good about himself.

The Formative Years

The early years of a preschooler’s life are formative.  A sense of self is forming as well as his sense of the world surrounding him.  The child is actually a container which is waiting to be filled with knowledge.  A child should be free to experience materials in different ways; to invent things out of cardboard boxes or strings, or paper or cloth.  Playing with other children is crucial in co-developing their learning.  In the first years of life, the brain is making connections.  Affection is one connection that is established.  The most important ingredient is the person who interacts with the child, creating responses back and forth between two human beings.  This is critical for brain development.

Early on, a child will learn how much support he can expect from other people.  Interviews with mothers from Denmark, Portugal, and Argentina reflect the similarity in a mother’s reaction to a new baby as its first caregiver.  A mother’s love is paramount in producing successful children.  Primarily, it should be a choice, not an imposition.

                                     

Father and Child

                                                       Father and Baby - Wikimedia

The Role of the Dad

Stay-at-home dads are becoming more prevalent.  In Denmark, fathers as well as mothers get paternity leave for up to a year.  A father’s role is essential in teaching the child that there is a world beyond its mother.  It has been shown that an involved father helps a woman to breastfeed successfully.  Sharing the housework and being with the children relieves the mother of stress, allowing her to enjoy her time with her child.

If the mother is the only one who knows how to do things for the child, the father cannot have a proper role in bringing up the child.  They must be partners.  A mother should never have to say to her husband “Can you do me a favor”?  It is his responsibility also.  One divorced mother in Portugal stated that she chose to work the night shift so that she could be home with her toddler son during the day.  A child does not care if the parents have money; he cares only that they are present to him.  One father defined himself as a “play platform” for his daughter to climb on.  He calls it his major role as a dad.  Play is the major vehicle for a child to learn.  It is the equivalent of work for them; it is what they are supposed to be doing.  It gives him time to experience his own existence.

It is important that the parent not make everything easy for the child; otherwise, it is not a challenge.  Notice that a child likes to do the same thing over and over, because there is an inborn desire for mastery of a task.

                                   

Toddlers Playing

                                                       Toddlers Playing - Wikimedia

Imagination Should be Fostered

It is not always necessary to buy ready-made toys.  Pretending is a big part of childhood, pretending to cook, to pour tea, to care for a baby doll, to be a soldier.  The child’s imagination can be brought into play in so many ways.  If a child lives in an apartment, there may not be too much space to play.  The parents may have to use their imaginations as well to keep their child occupied and interested.

Outdoor Play

A child loves to interact with nature.  Dirt, sand, water, mud, bubbles, all provide great entertainment even though the mother may have a cleaning job later on.  They can also learn to climb, explore, and appreciate the outdoors.

Developing Language Skills

Developing language skills depends a great deal on the parents’ interaction with their child.  Engaging your child in dialogue is a teaching tool.  Encourage the child to talk and to contribute to the conversation.  He should know that you see him and are listening to him.  He has something valid to say.  This creates a loving and safe environment.  A study has been conducted on the number of words a child hears per hour in a poor family as opposed to the child in a professional family.  The difference is thirty million more words that are heard in a professional family. Every time a parent speaks to the child, it is stimulation for him.  If a child is sure of your love, he knows he can say no to you sometimes.

Extended Family

When grandparents take care of their children, it broadens those children.  Grandparents are great storytellers.  Children learn that they belong to a family.  That sort of rooting is important.

                                             

Mother and Baby

                                                       Mother and Baby - Wikimedia

Children are Entitled to the Basic Necessities

Every human being has the right to basic necessities.  In poverty, children are denied their right.  Some families can’t afford to put a meal on the table.  Adults who are caring for children need to be recognized and helped.

It has been demonstrated that $1 invested in a child repays a community $7 in the future.  There can be as much as a 10 percent return when a child is given the capacity to perform in a positive way. 

An Education Received in Less Than Two Hours

The topics covered in this documentary need to be looked at carefully.  Maternity leave, the role of fathers, co-parenting, poverty, child rights, violence and neglect are explored throughout the film, providing a unique basis and understanding of early childhood development.

My thought at the end of the film was the wish that I had seen this film when my own children were infants.  All prospective and new parents will get a broad education in less than two hours if they view this film and take it seriously.

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Bibliography

  1. "The Beginning Of Life: A Movie About A New Beginning For Humanity." Look to the Stars. 26/06/2016. 26/06/2016 <Web >

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