Don’t get us wrong. We are not against pre-school provision. But we are against those who under-rate and undermine the mothers who think it best to be at home with their young children. We are also against social structures that force mothers to be away from their children, but that’s another discussion!
The facts below are from The Hidden Costs of Childcare by Patricia Morgan, Family Education Trust, 77 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 7RA, UKP 2.50
Myth 1 : Pre-school education helps children socially
False! You often hear it said that it’s better for young children to socialise early rather than be ‘stuck at home’ with the mother. But those who attended local authority day nurseries (even when corrected for social and family variables) were overwhelmingly: “prone to antisocial and aggressive behaviour, were hyperactive and unable to concentrate on school work, did not get on with others at school, were clumsy and anxious”
Myth 2 : Pre-school provision does not upset the mother/child relationship
False! At least 4 major studies show that children (especially boys) become much less secure in their relationship with their mothers. The security is very important. Those with secure attachment histories are on average: “more sociable, less withdrawn and hesitant, more self-confident and more skilled in solving challenging problems, seeking assistance and tolerating frustration”. Clearly it is better in general if the children are at home with their mothers!
Myth 3 : Working mothers are happier, so their children are happier
False and false! The myth assumes that mothers ‘stuck at home’ are miserable because they lack the stimulus of work. But there is abundant evidence that working mothers (especially those with children in the pre-school bracket) are more stressed and unhappy than those who stay at home. The mother’s stress can affect the child directly, in addition to the other negative aspects discussed above. There seem to be correlations between an increase in the hours worked by mothers of young children and a decrease of the IQ of those children.
Recent surveys in the UK and France show that the vast majority of mothers with young children (80% and 75% respectively) would prefer to be at home. It is unfortunate that modern financial pressures (often the side-effects of well-intentioned policies on lone-parents [see the relevant myths] ) are forcing more and more mothers to do what their instincts, and the research, show to be damaging to them and their children.
Myth 4 : The best thing would be for governments to provide quality pre-school care for all those who want it
False! There are many wonderful pre-school providers; dedicated people, devoted to children in their care, well resourced, with high staff to children ratio. But there are many, many more facilities where this high level is not, and cannot be attained. It would require a totally unrealistic level of resources to bring pre-school provision even to a level where there was little harm to the children.
There is a far simpler way of providing quality pre-school care. Make it financially viable, for those mothers who want to, to stay at home with their small children. This would be the most sensible use of government resources. The main barrier to such a sensible solution lies in the myths above. Until those myths disappear, such a sensible solution will not appear on governmental agendas.
We always encourage response to our articles on modern myths. We would be especially interested in any US data relevant to the topic. Feel free to Send your views to NACF