Early Childhood

The conception of childhood, which attaches special meaning to this stage and where children are at the center of family life, is a modern invention. In the feudal West, life was communal: The family served important functions such as giving life and name and passing on property, but important intimate elements of daily life were public for most of the population. Children joined adults in day-to-day life soon after weaning, and were viewed as small adults. The “modern family” emerged during the 17th century as the centerpiece of daily life and children were at the center of it. The role of family and school as institutions in modern, middle-class life took prominence, defining this distinct phase in life and thereby removing children from the day-to-day ...

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