Sunday, May 29, 2011

Child education myths

One of the things that irk me is the notion that normal, capable, intelligent mothers are somehow less competent to be in charge of their preschool children than “professionals”. I am especially bamboozled by the following myths:

  1. Children need daycare for socialization
Humans are social creatures, and it’s good for children to be placed in touch with all sorts of people, among them children of their own age. However, it doesn’t mean that the absolute best for such little children is to spend the chief portion of their day with their peers, without the balancing and equilibrating presence of elders and minors.

Being at home doesn’t mean living in isolation on a deserted island! There are friends, playgroups, many different activities to choose from, countless interesting places to visit if one thinks of it, and most of it costs nothing or next to nothing.

  1. Mothers are not competent enough to teach their preschoolers
Preschool is not rocket science. Any intelligent parent can read stories to their child, draw with them, practice simple crafts such as sticking and gluing, playdough, etc. Anyone can take their child for walks. Neither is it very difficult, a bit later, to begin teaching a child his letters and numbers. And most importantly, at home the child gets this essential touch of participating in everyday life and doing valuable jobs, which can only be unfaithfully imitated in a preschool setting.

  1. Problems are surely the result of the home upbringing, and will be solved by sending the child to daycare/preschool
Toddlers tantrums? Power struggles? The child is shy of strangers? No doubt all of it is caused by the fact that you are bringing up your child at home, and all would be solved if only you agreed to send your child to All-Problem-Solving Preschool – totally ignoring the fact that countless preschoolers have the very same problems, which might in fact be exacerbated by their being away from their mother all day long. 

9 comments:

Jo said...

I completely agree with you Mrs Anna, mothers have all the skills to educate their pre-schooler, perhaps more than any educator.

I do agree that young children need to have other children to help with the socialization, which is often the reason for sending a toddler to pre-school, but as you say, most mothers have friends who have toddlers or you can join a play group or church group.

I think it is more about sending the toddler off to pre-school to free up mums time more than anything.

Persuaded said...

Here, here, Anna! You know what? I have a coupla degrees in early childhood ed, and I can assure you that very very little of what I learned at college has any real bearing on the actual act of teaching. Any parent who is willing to put forth the effort to read a few books and inform themselves of the various types of curriculum out there will be able to do a much better job of educating their children than the vast majority of teachers in the vast majority of classrooms. And this is especially true for the preschool years. My opinion? Unless your home is utterly bereft of resources and stimulation, unless your family is dysfunctional to the point of abuse/neglect, unless mama desperately wants to be anywhere but home and in the presence of her little ones... pre-school children's needs are best met in the home.
:-D

DrJulieAnn aka Modern Retro Woman said...

As I used to tell my human development students when I would lecture/discuss early childhood rearing, I can be the perfect mother because I was never able to have my own to disprove my mothering perfection! :)

That said, I am a semi-retired educational psychologist not an early development specialist but I have become more and more alarmed by the insistence that children must go to preschool and how regimented preschools have become. My goodness, if children don't know their complete alphabet and numbers by the time they are 3 1/2 these days, they are considered academic failures! Hogwash! In fact, we may actually be doing more harm than good by forcing them to become academics at such a young age.

To me, the greatest benefit of a preschool environment is that children may receive brain developing stimulation that they may not receive at home for whatever reason (parents that may be too exhausted from work to fully engage with the children, for example). I am a proponent of natural, curiosity, and fantasy oriented learning which is hard to do in a classroom.

My husband tells this story from his own childhood: He is very shy so his mother enrolled him in Miss Mary's Nursery School two days a week so that he would "socialize" with other children. Instead, he said he would stand on the outskirts of the playground watching the other children play. He was miserable and just wanted to go home. (Doesn't that seem just so sad??)

Sorry for the rambling. Your insightful post just tapped into my thoughts!

mom-e-mae said...

I agree your three points.
1. To be socialized means being around people. Mother, Father, siblings, all count. I think you learn better socialization skills from being around the same people all the time, you really learn how to deal with problems, and cope with difficulties, while at the same time, have a chance to experience deep and true love for others.

2. teaching prechoolers can be so much fun!! But it requires a change of lifestyle, and saying "no" to your self. Which some are unwilling to do.

3. I think the reason so many believe sending children off solves their problems, is that the problem behavior is simply moved out of the home and into another setting with someone else to deal with it. Then by the time the children come home, they are so exhausted from a long day of tantrums and power struggles, that they are easier to handle. And parents just want their short time together to be peaceful that they are very accommodating and permissive. No problems are solved: just hidden or displaced.

I had my first child in daycare and had another on the way when he was getting in trouble for hitting and pushing. They kept telling me to do something about it, and I thought to myself, "How can I? I'm never with him, all I do is feed, bathe and put him to bed at night, then feed dress and drop him off in the morning." The absurdity of my predicament suddenly opened my eyes: I needed to raise my children, and I can't do that unless I'm with them. So we made some severe sacrifices and I quit work. The best decision ever!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how it works, not being a blogger myself, but a lot of places have links where you can repost articles to Facebook or other social networking sites. You've echoed my thoughts nearly perfectly, and I'd love to be able to share this on my Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Never mind. I just saw the button =/

SilverWing said...

Children don't need pre-school or day care for socialization. I mean don't most children live where they have neighbors their age? I did. And I was very outgoing as a child, we had the neighborhood kids over almost every day and I was the chief instigator in them coming over (my parents didn't mind of course^^). I made friends with any and every child in our neighborhood that I could, those were great years before I got shy. To say the least to not suffer from lack of socialization during my early (or teen) yrs. I have been homeschooled my entire life, I have never entered a kindergarten, pre-school or day care. I had a very unstructured childhood for the most part neither I nor my sister had very long lists of stuff to do. And I over all enjoyed how I grew up, and think to this day that my Mom was a wonderful teacher (the best one in the world!^^). I was taught how to count and recite my abc's :) I honestly don't see where I missed out at all by not being in a public daycare or school system. In fact I thank God every day I wasn't and had the awesome privilege of being taught by my mom :)
And though I grew to be shy, it wasn't because of lack of socialization (more like "because of" well possibly^^) or because I was at home all the time. The same sort of myths are spread regarding homeschool as well not just about young kids either but about a kid of any age being homeschooled. The thing no matter how many times parents or the children themselves refute these myths people still hold to their view and beliefs regarding how a child should be raised. Great post :) I really enjoy reading your blog^^

Gothelittle Rose said...

My husband tells this story from his own childhood: He is very shy so his mother enrolled him in Miss Mary's Nursery School two days a week so that he would "socialize" with other children. Instead, he said he would stand on the outskirts of the playground watching the other children play. He was miserable and just wanted to go home.

My son was very shy, so I kept him home. He cried in the nursery, so I let him sit with us. He cried during Sunday School, so I didn't make him go. He clung, and I let him... when he was 3, 4...

When he was nearly 5 years old, he suddenly developed an interest in Sunday School. We let him ease himself in. Now he goes to several social events per week, makes friends with everyone he sees, and is basically one of the most sociable kids I've ever met. I think he knows more people than *I* do.

People try to form their children's character too soon. Don't worry about shyness until age 8 or so. Don't worry about educational focus until about age 8 or so. My son found his educational focus a couple of months after he became social, and now he is reading two grade levels above his age.

Anonymous said...

My husband thinks that other toddlers (especially preschool peers) can teach our toddler to speak fluently.