WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT UNIVERSAL CHILD CARE AND EDUCATION?
I remember hearing a Head of a Junior School congratulate all the parents who had sent their children to some kind of pre-schooling experience. His sentiments were along the lines of “And now your children will be better prepared for school and do better.”
Apart from indirectly accusing those parents who did not send their children to pre-school or child-care as being less responsible, he had another problem. The child who had just topped his Junior School had never set foot in child-care or pre-school.
What do you think of how universal pre-schooling experience should be? Convivium just released an article where they interviewed a leading Canadian economist who has tried to understand the strengths and weaknesses of universal child care. Here are some extracts from that article:
On why some children (from ‘better’ homes) can do worse if they go to daycare:
We have a hypothesis that is guiding some of our future work about what is going on, which is that when parents are sending their kids to child care, they end up doing a lot less parenting of that child, such as reading to the child. They assume a lot of educational activities are going towards the child within the daycare centres. They think of it as more early education than early care. What we found is that the kids who really had very low home inputs before hand, when they go to childcare, they are actually gaining because they are getting more inputs from child care than they would have otherwise had at home. But for other kids, they actually end up doing worse because the effectiveness of the child care in the group setting is not as effective as one to one. That is what we think is driving this.
On whether the negative effects are more for boys or girls:
What we found was that the lion’s share of the negative effects in the program were actually coming from the boys. The negative effects were larger for boys. Exactly why this is so is really hard to pinpoint. But these gender differences are important to know.
On whether negative effects were age related:
On the age front, the negative consequences are really coming from the younger children. There’s no real discussion about age streaming. Most schools, if you have a grade one class, it’s all grade one students. You don’t have a class where you mix grade one students with grade four students. If we are putting kids between zero to four in the same daycare centre, more than likely what could be happening is that the attention is probably focussed on the bigger kids because they can move more. Maybe the younger ones are not getting responded to as quickly.
And a summary that relates to all education, perhaps?
I think high quality childcare is very, very beneficial, but a lot of the childcare that ends up being offered is not at the highest quality levels.
The full article can be found at:
Stephen J Fyson PhD
Centre for the Future of Schooling