Sunday, 29 July 2012

Toxic childhood- Detoxing Childhood...... Part 3- Detoxing Childcare and Education

   It's been awhile, but I wanted to continue the series for all my readers waiting for the next instalment! I've had one or two emails asking when I will continue...... here goes!

For a quick recap, check these previous posts.

Learning V's Education
For a Home Ed Mama this is a subject I could chew over for a long, long time! Is education in the formal sense how children learn? Is life all about learning??? In Sue's book she discusses how learning takes place from birth, day to day activities are learning. After all, babies learn about the world around them, how to control their bodies, then how to walk, talk etc. It happens naturally because the child wants to, through natural curiosity, imitation and repetition. Adults don't teach babies how to sit! We encourage them, praise them, provide opportunities for the skills to be practised, but we don't educate them on the art of sitting!
However, this said, not everything can be left to this natural process. Take social skills or toilet training these skills need to be taught. The child needs to be shown what to do. But is this education??? Or is it merely a process that happens as part of the care for a child?

Part of choosing suitable childcare for your child should be about choosing a setting that values these aspects of care, not just the 'education' they provide. According to Sue 'child raising requires a lot of time and attention, as well as establishing habits and behaviour, providing real food, real play and real first hand experiences.'

Attachment and Communication
'Attachment is the scientific name for the deep bond between a child and the person who cares for it.'- Sue Palmer.
Attaching to the main care giver is important for a child's emotional stability and growth. Good childcare should allow for attachment. A child's personality, behaviour and learning all depends on secure attachment. If you would like to read more attachment I can recommend a book by Sue Gerhardt.

In Sue's book she discusses how a securely attached child will find it easier to form strong relationships and long term emotional resilience.

If you choose a childcare setting for your child where staffing is not stable, or the care giver is different everyday the process of attachment can not take place.

Language skills come from this same bond. Often a mother will sing to her baby, talk to them or play with them. This provides the child with an example, a role model for language. Eventually, the child will imitate and copy this language. It is worth noting that bad examples of language eg swearing, poor sentences etc are also copied and imitated by children exposed to this. In my experience of being around children in Reception class (as a teacher), children who were not talked to, sang to, played with as a babies often have poor language and communication skills.

Childcare- a valued career?
Childcare in the UK is not (in my opinion) valued as a career. It started life as 'womens work'. Women stayed at home to care for their children. As times changed women wanted to earn money and wanted the same opportunities as men, so they went out to work! This then provided a need for childcare. But women themselves saw this type of work as low status, as it was exactly this that they were trying to escape by going to work. However, if you think about it, childcare is hugely high status! As a childcarer/provider you are shaping the future of a child, raising the next generation! The status of childcare workers needs to rise!
After all, problems in today's society pointing back to parenting issues have made it clear just how important that 'women's work' is!

Sue explains how she feels ' our booming consumer culture has added to the toxic brew. Parents are happy to invest money in their child's future but since they don't see the value of childcare they spend it elsewhere.'
'But good quality childcare in the early years is probably the most significant investment parents can make.'

Primary Education
Sue gives three reasons behind the issues with primary school education.

  1. Too much is taught too soon
  2. To much pressure- tests and targets
  3. The learning turn-off- overloaded curriculum
It's quite difficult for me to be objective because the above reasons are exactly why I chose to home educate!!!!! All I can say is what is important to you as a parent? Do you want a rounded child? Or is it really more important that your child is top of the class? 

Sue outlines in her book, for the rest of this section, about how to ensure the most from your child's time in primary education. It's definatley worth a read if your parent with children in school. 

I'll end with this quote which I find quite poignant!

'Teachers and parents come from different corners, and have different goals. Parents want red-carpet treatment for their children; teachers want to keep their classroom show on the road. Parents get fustrated when schools don't take them seriously; schoold get hostile and defensive when parents make demands they think unreasonable.' Hilary Wilce, Educational Agony Aunt!

My readers have been quiet lately so I challenge you to leave me a comment! I want to hear your thoughts! 

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