Canadian National Post – Tasha Kheiriddin: Several studies have now shown the dangers of daycare

I will never forget the day that I took daughter to one of our local parks, aged about 2.5 years old and we watched a line of zombified kids, her peers, corralled out of the local full-time day care into the park; chivvied to undertake some fairly soulless uninventive play on the equipment and then corralled back before they’d barely filled their lungs with fresh air.

A couple of little ones who had been patiently waiting for a swing didn’t even get a go, they had spent 15 minutes just waiting, for nothing.  I was amazed that they didn’t kick off in protest.  They just fell in line without reaction.  I was shocked.

As a bright and articulate only child with little family and few friends with children, none the same age, I did feel pressure to “socialise” daughter via sending her to some kind of preschool setting.  I thought that she needed exposure to unfairness, to the odd snatch and shove, to help her grow up strong and balanced.  I certainly couldn’t, as her mother, create that sort of dynamic when I was playing with her…

I toured the local private nurseries, most open from dawn til dusk and longer; babies from only a few months old left all day long; some children having all of their meals there on weekdays, only going home to basically sleep.  Lots of the staff were lovely and loving but there was zero option for any of those children to spend a whole afternoon alone with an adult all to themselves, snuggled up on a sofa, dozing and chatting and just “being”.

I am not saying that any time in peer-based group activities is not good for kids, nor denying that my daughter was in part-time nursery school a few mornings a week from the age of 2; but I have very mixed feelings about that.

Daughter went to a very small term-time only nursery owned by two loving and wonderful women, It was run on little to no profit but loads and loads of love.  I still feel that there was no better setting for her locally.

Other than at home with me.

Daughter never looked forward to going that much (with hindsight, the sensory aspect would have been really arduous for her) and if I had my time again, she wouldn’t have gone.  I wish I’d had the courage of my convictions back then.

On reflection, I reconcile my unease with mutterings of ‘fate’ as one of the owners has subsequently been a rock for me through daughter’s various ups, downs and diagnoses, and I hope she will remain a life-long friend.

When I speak candidly with close friends who put their children in pre-school daycare because they “need” to work, after they’ve paid out for travel, work clothes and daycare (let alone the odd Starbucks and M&S sarnie), their remaining take-home money is often not much more than if they stayed at home and did not work at all.

This is justified by things like “otherwise we couldn’t afford to go on holiday” or “how would be pay for the car?” – two aspects of a young child’s life that they likely will not remember nor that will have a fraction of the impact of being at home with a parent more of the time.

Why are we scared of what will happen if we don’t socialise our children young?  It certainly doesn’t mitigate autism (wry smile and wink).

In fact, as the below linked article discusses, daycare can actually lead to lower ‘non-cognitive’ abilities: boys showed higher levels of hyperactivity and aggression, while girls showed declines in pro-social behaviour, such as donating and volunteering:

2 thoughts on “Canadian National Post – Tasha Kheiriddin: Several studies have now shown the dangers of daycare

  1. Interesting blog that raises a lot of questions about ‘modern life’.

    As a child growing up in the 1960s, nurseries or day-care were pretty much unheard of for my parents’ generation. I think if they needed any help, they relied pretty much on family and/or friends for a spot of babysitting.

    I know my Mum did when she became on her own and needed to work: generally, that meant a neighbour or one of her few friends would sit with me and my sisters while she was at work (mostly nights) or, sometimes, we were left on our own (something that would have social services removing kids these days).

    Whilst there are other reasons I don’t look back on that time with all happy memories, this wasn’t one of them.

    Nurseries were really something that rich people had – usually more akin to having a live-in nanny or sending kids away to boarding school than the current ‘system’.

    With the help of my Mum, Dad at least until I was 6 or so and a few friends and neighbours, I could read pretty well before I started school at 5; knew my alphabet and Nos up to 10 and could write well enough to write my own name and address up to street, town, county, postcode, country, planet and universe (that was my Christmas letter to Santa just after my 4th birthday!)

    There were other children we mixed with at some of those friends’ houses or at trips to the local park and no-one ever said we couldn’t go on the swings or slide! Even if both were set into concrete and not the ‘soft landing’s now insisted upon!

    We learned to share as toys were generally things we shared together as sisters other than special dolls, teddies etc. that were personal to each of us – and that cemented the idea of ‘personal property’ and not nicking other people’s stuff!

    Now, it seems parents are deemed to be failing their children if they don’t put them into nursery (pre-school?) from about 2 yrs of age, where they have to compete with other children for attention and love.

    I’m not sure this is truly healthy for either the children or the parents?

    Do not the children lose out on those early years of bonding and building a close relationship with Mum / Dad? And knowing who to go to with questions, grazed knees, sibling squabbles, a hug?

    Do not the parents lose out similarly plus have the guilt trip of being at work when so many ‘firsts’ are occurring: first step, first word, first time counting (even if not right), first time writing their own name?

    It seems to me we’ve perhaps forgotten what ‘parenting’ actually is in the drive to get more and more (of those so-called ‘feckless’) parents back into the workplace. Some of those ‘feckless’ parents were never in the workplace to start with and tackling that issue is very different to pretty much forcing babes in arms into nursery education provision (as it’s not just a matter of childcare any more is it?).

    I have no problem whether it’s Mum or Dad that’s there for the early years, but I do kind of think that it’s better for most children to have the dedicated attention of one parent up until at least 4 yrs of age, if not longer. After all, many countries that seem to have better educational outcomes than the UK have a much later start age for children’s education – often not until 6 or 7.

    Strangely though, for all the value placed on strong family ties in modern society (all the talk about ‘hard working families’ / recognition that kids in care suffer from being constantly moved about), we seem to value the work done in families by Mums in particular when it comes to similar roles in the workplace,
    with employment in the ‘caring’ professions of childcare, care for vulnerable adults and elderly care generally only commanding minimum wage (apart from the managers) and often being dismissed by others as ‘low-skilled’ work (seemingly with no value).

    Odd that, isn’t it?

    I wonder why that may be?

    Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that most of these roles were traditionally undertaken unpaid by women within the home and then, when someone saw the opportunity for a business based around ‘care’ (young/old/vulnerable), they sought to recruit the best-qualified for the roles (women) but didn’t consider them to be worth much more than zero: after all, they’d pretty much been doing it for free for centuries!

    It just goes to show what skewed values we really have in our society when someone who can kick a ball into a net fairly accurately can earn millions a year (at an hourly rate in the £1000’s), yet someone you trust your 3 month old child or dementia-suffering parent to earns minimum wage and is often berated for not having worked harder in school!

    Sorry for the long reply, but you’ve thrown up so many questions I’ve been thinking a lot about recently (despite being in my 50’s with no kids)

    Liked by 1 person

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