The cost of day care

Tasha Kheiriddin of the National Post wrote a great article on the cost of day care for your child. Most people advocating for day care (or “Early Childhood Education”, as they call it) cite studies claiming that kids in day care learn more skills that will eventually be building blocks in their future jobs. This may in fact be true, because day care often has teaching sessions, almost like kindergarten, where kids are taught certain things. But even those benefits are being challenged by new research, as Ms. Kheiriddin explains. Moreover, the day care advocates ignore what is sacrificed in the process.

Studies have found that kids in day care don’t develop as much creativity. When you teach kids something, they tend to learn that something but not much else. Kids need time to fidget and tinker with their toys, invent nonsensical fairy tales and what not. A child’s brain is like a sponge with an incredible capacity to learn and discover. They need to do some of that discovering on their own, through creativity.

What we’re seeing in society today is a generation that can’t think outside the box because they don’t do much thinking at all. People are all too happy to delegate to the State the responsibility for many important decisions in their life. They’re too busy entertaining themselves to be bothered with any thinking.

Studies cited by Ms. Kheiriddin also find that day care may contribute to a lack of attention among children (perhaps explaining the epidemic of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), more illness at a young age (day cares are virtual incubators for colds and flus), and the loss in parenting ability and affection.

That last one is a real biggie. You can’t outsource the raising of your kids to an under-paid and over-worked day-care employee. This isn’t a knock against day-care workers. They’re being asked the impossible. You can’t expect a perfect stranger to provide loving and nurturing care for so many kids of varying needs and backgrounds. Some workers may even intentionally be holding back so as not to be emotionally hurt when the children leave the day care. It’s called “guarding your heart” and I don’t blame them for seeking some detachment.

Let’s be frank for a sec. If a couple is dropping the kids off at the day care at 8 am and picking them up at 5 pm, the kids spend 9 hours per day with the day care workers. How many hours are they spending with the parents? Maybe a couple of hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening before bedtime? So about 5 hours a day? So they spend almost twice as many hours a day with the day care worker than with the parents? And you don’t think that affects their sense of attachment or their emotional development?

These ain’t just dogs that can be dropped off at the kennel when you go on vacation. If anything, the kids can get confused and start thinking that the day care workers are the real parents. Don’t blame the kids for making these kind of connections:

Day care worker = the people that let me play with toys and scribble all day.

Parents = those grumpy people that force me to eat the broccoli, go to bed early and yell at me because they’ve had a rough day at work.

Humans have complex emotional needs, especially at such a young age. If we wonder why kids have so little respect for their parents when they become adolescents, perhaps we should consider the little respect shown to them as young children by treating them like cattle on a dairy farm (just feed and clean).

I leave you with Ms. Kheiriddin’s conclusion:

When you factor in the billions of dollars a year it would cost to implement ECE [Early Childhood Education] for all two-to-five year olds, it becomes very clear that there are better things to do with this money, including leaving it in parents’ pockets so that one can choose to work less and parent more for those first few years. “We need to turn our family policy junkyard into a human development system”, says the Early Years 3 report. No, we don’t. We need to turn human development back over to families, where it belongs. (Source)

Amen to that.

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