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Turn on and tune in

Children are acute and observant listeners, says Tuning into Children, a newly-released video produced by the BBC and the National Children's Bureau.

The bureau calls it "a landmark training resource", because it is deliberately long (90 minutes) and contains little commentary about the young children shown. The producers hope the viewer will instead observe the children and see life from their point of view.

Or as Dorothy Selleck, senior officer in the early childhood unit of the NCB, told early years workers at the video launch: "This video gives parents, professionals, communities and citizens a chance to see children learning as children - playfully, actively, curiously, thoughtfully. Children are brilliant thinkers, philosophers and enquirers, and if we pause from imposing our own questions on them, if we step back from urging children to take a single-track, fast-forward approach to learning, we may listen to their own quest and zest for learning along the highways and byways of divergent creative thinking - children's own journeys of learning, not our adult ambitions and outcomes.

"The BBC team filmed and edited children's questions, which were profound, searching, humorous, and indeed difficult for us to answer."

Editor Mike Burton believes the video has changed his attitude to his 13, 12, and nine-year-old children.

He no longer says "yes" and "no" to his children, he claims, but tries to understand and explain, although he suspects his offspring still see him as "a grumpy old git", especially when he returns home after a hard day's work.

One of the scenes in the film which upset him the most shows a child, Nikita, crying during his first week at nursery. Although the film shows Nikita sobbing alone for only a few seconds, Mr Burton and his colleagues debated whether the touching scene was an intrusion into the little boy's privacy.

A box of tissues is certainly de rigeur when watching this film - not because the video contains any harrowing scenes, but because it highlights the fragility of infancy.

Children's earliest learning experiences have a profound impact on them later, says Ms Selleck. And, say neuroscientists, the brain's greatest growth spurt draws to a close around the age of 10.

The video is accompanied by a 119-page book on child development by writer and researcher Tina Bruce.

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