AS PRINTED IN THE DAILY MAIL FEB 19TH 2015:
Prevention is better than cure! I’m sure you’ve heard this saying before. It’s thrown into conversations here and there and I’m nearly positive I’ve heard the odd politician here in Ireland say it too in some form or another. We’ve heard it in relation to our healthcare and mental health with little or no effect and on Tuesday on the streets of Dublin we saw another example of a professional sector being squeezed within an inch of it’s life. The purpose of the rally was to highlight the importance of early childhood education and care and the vital role, played by childhood professionals in supporting our children and families in the vital foundation stage of development.
I am deeply passionate about the formative years and early childhood learning and development, which is why I toured the country with my 0 To Toddler shows a few years ago. How our children are educated in the early years sets the foundations for their future. Through years 0-5, 90% of our brain and thinking is formed. Children grow at a phenomenal pace that is unequalled during any other time in our lives. Because of this dramatic growth, language blossoms, basic motor abilities advance and social and emotional development enables the child to begin to understand his or her own feelings and those of others around him. To date this foundation stage of education has mainly been seen within the domain of the family rather than the societal domain and this thinking very simply needs to change.
James has been at The Toddler Inn just off the Navan Road for over three years now and I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the most dedicated and caring girls I have ever met. The professionals working in this sector are not child-minders they are educators. They are properly qualified and have worked hard for their degrees.
We have got to join the dots and start putting preventative measures in place to make sure our children’s futures are taken seriously. We also need to value those who educate our children, pay them properly and stop them from leaving probably the most important sector of our society. We simply cannot value our children like we say we do unless we value the people that teach and care for them.
This area also helps to deal with issues that arise with children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds. Education is crucial for children’s self-esteem and development. It is a proven route out of poverty; a path through which a child can see what is possible for them and that can help them to reach their full potential. Evaluations of the High/Scope Perry Pre-School Program for 3-4-year-old children in the US found both short-term and long-term positive effects on the children taking part in them. Participants had higher achievement levels over the course of their schooling year and the benefits from participation persisted into adulthood, with a higher rate of high school graduation, higher earnings, a lower take-up of welfare and a lower crime rate so it’s obvious to me that the earlier we start the better.
I’m also sick of hearing complaints from people who don’t have kids arguing that they shouldn’t pay for those who do. Everyone was a child once. Reproduction is essential to keeping our species alive and whether you want to donate to that or not is your decision but you will need these babies when you are old too to keep things ticking over and to keep our country running so that you can put food on the table and even potentially be looked after by the youth of today.
Parents and childcare providers are being pushed to their limits financially and emotionally and in my opinion the government must now step in and provide adequate support so standards are kept high and we don’t have another primetime special on our hands. Why can’t we learn lessons and understand that investing early prevents so many problems in the future saving money in the long run, after all that seems to be what every important issue in this country comes down to.