One of the more important aspects of listening to all of the rhetoric concerning anything educational is to always check things out for yourself. Assume nothing, verify everything. So, on to the subject at hand:
Pre-school/daycare can be a great place for a child. It shouldn’t be necessary to add the caveat “…a good pre-school…” Pre-school/daycare may provide some very nice things for a young child: a safe and supportive place to be when Mom and Dad are at work; a good dunk in the socialization pool, learning how to share, communicate with others, listen and so on. For some families, where Mom and Dad both have to work outside the home and are not in a postion for one to work days while the other does, perhaps, a swing shift, pre-school, or good day care, are necessities. But, what if your child doesn’t do any pre-school, or daycare? Will he or she really end up in dire straights? Recently there has been a bit of rhetoric about the pre-school/daycare experience. A study, by the Rand Corporation, is often cited, as “proof” that if your child doesn’t make it into good quality pre-school/daycare, he or she will experience the following possibilities: a greater chance of going to prison or jail, developing a substance abuse habit, not make much money or certainly not enough, and/or miss out on the joy of life altogether. Scary stuff indeed. National TV shows spent some time on the issue, with very learned and serious guests promoting the absolute necessity of pre-school/intensive daycare if your child is to grow into a productive and normal adult, one without a prison record, or any time spent in the county lock-up, or the local food stamp line. After all, the Rand Corporation did the study. They did, it’s true. And some of the information presented by the national press is also, according to the study, true. If, however, one actually reads the study, a different, unabridged version appears right before your eyes. The important piece of the study that is commonly left out is the piece that identifies the group the dire information describes. If a child is from abysmal circumstances, either physically or emotionally, comes from an uncaring or incapable set of parents, is seriously poor and so on, then pre-school/daycare can indeed help out in the long run. It is not a certainty, but the odds of success go up. For children who come from the broad range of normal families the data do not show a gain of any substance. In fact, if you and your family do things together, eat together, read together, go places and explore, and if your young children are allowed to explore the yard, the house, have time with other children either at your place, their place or the park, and are generally allowed to be children within a supportive and loving atmosphere, pre-school/daycare isn’t something that you need to do. Subjecting very young children to an overly regulated day, especially if it is all day, can curb their natural learning abilities. Micromanaging their time is a bad idea. If your family is in that broad range of normal, there still is no place like home. The next time you hear a big push for pre-school/daycare to keep your child out of jail, check out the person speaking, look at the money trail (after all, if you can be convinced to place your child in pre-school, someone is making money on the deal), and above all check out their sources, validate for yourself the research that is being used to support their theory. You may find a different story than the one being presented. Assume nothing, verify everything, including what I have written here. Let me know what you find out.