Learning and Play is one of our key themes at iOi, and these discoveries take that concept one further. While the idea of children hunting and working might not be appropriate for today’s society, the potential for increasing motor skills and proficiency at practical tasks is fascinating.

Archaeologists at the University of Alberta have been investigating the essential preparation role prehistoric childhood played.

Upon discovering handheld spear tools on Oregon’s coast in the USA, they were puzzled by some distinctly ‘child-sized’ ones.

One hypothesis is that the adults would create smaller versions so that their offspring could practise their hunting skills for later in life. Use of this tool in particular took years to master, so starting young would have made sense.

This discovery is adding to the view of a wider school of thought that babies and children who are exposed to tools and weapons will quickly make the transition from playing to working with these items.

The idea that prehistoric children might have been productive members of their societies is a relatively new one. Similarly, the idea of ‘child labor’ is almost universally outlawed, so the concept of appropriate and educational ‘children’s work’ is difficult for all of us to understand.

Read the article in Science magazine.

Posted by:Sophie Sabin

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