Speaking in London this week, the Princess of Wales said children’s social and emotional skills are just as valuable as reading, writing and maths.
In February this year, she launched her “life’s work”, via a project called Shaping Up that aims to highlight the importance of early years development of children, saying: “The campaign is fundamentally about shining a spotlight on the critical importance of early childhood and how it shapes the adults we become. During this time we lay the foundations and building blocks for life."
This week, she followed this up with a speech at a symposium organised by her Royal Foundation’s Centre for Early Childhood in central London. Her long-term public awareness drive is thought to be the first of its kind to be launched by a member of the Royal family.
She warned that “new thinking and action” is needed at every level in order to strengthen emotional development in both children and adults, and said nurturing social and emotional skills was “just as valuable to our long-term success as reading, writing or arithmetic”.
As she unveiled a global framework for emotional development, based on an international study involving 110 experts from 21 countries, she called on society to prioritise the “inner worlds" of children. She said the findings of the study were “really quite exciting” and had identified “untapped potential” to bring the worlds of childhood and adulthood together.
“Nurturing skills that enable us to know ourselves, manage our emotions, focus our thoughts, communicate with others, foster positive relationships, and explore the world are just as valuable to our long-term success as reading, writing or arithmetic,” she said.
Kensington Palace said the study marked the first time the Princess had used her global convening power - a clear sign that she wanted its findings to form the basis of an international movement.
“This is the next level,” a spokesman said. “This is the blueprint for how she will think about the future of her work. We are not here to lobby policy but to set out a global framework that the early childhood sector can use. We know there are levers we can pull but policy isn’t one of them.”
Christian Guy, director of the Centre said of her speech: “It’s almost a manifesto for social and emotional skills.”
The Princess said: “This is not just about the youngest children in our society, who are, by their very nature, vulnerable. It is also about the many young people and adults who are suffering. We must do more than simply meet the short-term needs of these individuals. We must also look at creating long-term, preventative change.”