Thursday, November 10, 2005

Exams for under-threes

From which planet do our government ministers come from?

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,172-1864565,00.html

In a new Bill being proposed, under-threes in the care of nurseries and childminders will be legally required to be taught a National Curriculum. To be policed by Ofsted, this is to ensure that children are taught mathematics, reading and writing.

Why? Because three-year-olds have been found to enter PLAYschool (NB emphasis on PLAY) without the necessary basic knowledge.

Yet three-year-olds are known to be excluded from playschools for their ability to swear.

How do you square this? Who teaches young children to swear? Who teaches young children to count?

Is the government now saying that mothers cannot be trusted to teach their own children? Or are they waking up to the fact that too many children are left in the care of institutions and now these institutions must step up on their surrogate parent roles?

In either case, the reasoning is flawed. The government is treating the symptoms of a problem and not the root of the problem.

One category of children not learning are children left in the care of childminders. Childminders provide a safe environment for children while parents work, but they are not obliged (till this Bill becomes law) to provide intellectual stimulation. That is why I chose to stay at home to look after my own kid.

'[Beverley Hughes] argued that research showed that earlier education helped children to develop faster both socially and intellectually.' Us real parents know that.

'The children will be expected to have mastered skills such as comparing, categorising and recognising symbols and marks.' Us real parents do that when we take children on walks, talk about the different shapes and colours of leaves on the ground (comparing), as we read car number plates and road signs (recognizing symbols and marks), sort out the cutlery, clothes and toys before putting away (categorizing).

Solution: Parents (either father or mother) be helped to remain at home when children are nought to three to give them their best attention during their most formative years. There are related issues like mothers (especially) returning to work, having to re-train, etc, but these are to do with employment practices and cultures that legislation alone cannot resolve.

Another category of children are those whose parents do not have the resources to teach them, mainly children of immigrant parents with limited English and those who have little education themselves. The mothers of these children are not likely to be able to earn enough money to make it worthwhile to work and so won't benefit from this scheme.

They are best helped through themselves being better educated. They need classes where they can learn English and other skills (parenting, playing with children, doing craft with children) ALONGSIDE THEIR CHILDREN.

If three-year-olds can learn to swear from their parents, they can also learn good habits, maths, reading and writing. If parents are not equipped to do this when their children are under-three, these same children will not get the necessary support when they become five, eleven, thirteen, and so on.

Isn't it strange that a government that does not believe that babies born to single teenage mothers (who are themselves children) should be encouraged to put them up for adoption to give these babies a headstart should now consider giving carers outside the home the responsibility of teaching these babies?

Why have a baby in the first place? Why let a fifteen-year-old mother keep her baby when she should be given a chance to move on to make something of her own life? What chance have such babies got to get out of this vicious circle of unplanned parenthood?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to childhood? Where is the delight of discovery when our children are being continually taught? I am so grateful that mine are now teenagers and missed the forced feeding of pre-school etc. Yes we did playgroup but it was PLAY not academia in disguise..... Lyds