Child Development

sarah vineProving that it’s not just us “Americans” who are obsessed with bizarre child development ideas…the British are considering a new Childcare Bill that is aimed at the improved development of “children” aged 0 to 3…

In theory, a child who is not yet able to sit unaided, speak or ingest solids is going to be expected to express “joy, sadness, frustration and fear, leading to the development of strategies to cope with new, challenging or stressful situations”. Assuming that either the child or its carers can fathom what this means, the former is then going to be required to perform the above for the benefit of state inspectors. Great. Hey, Junior, no pressure, but now that you have been breathing on your own for almost 12 hours, isn’t it time that you started working up those recognition skills? What’s that you say? More milk? Milk is for wimps! How about flashcards?

Now I’m not about to bore on about the sanctity of childhood, but only because nought to 3 is not childhood, it’s babyhood. It’s the one brief window of opportunity where it is perfectly OK to eat sand, suck people’s noses and shout “I haven’t got a willie!” at complete strangers in the street. It is, and should remain, as spontaneous as possible. It is certainly no place for invasive legislation (under the proposals childminders and nurseries will be under a legal obligation to teach this wretched Early Years Foundation Stage). And it’s certainly no place for politics.

Mothers don’t need the Government to make them competitive and paranoid about their babies’ development. We already manage that very well on our own. Assuming that one’s nerves survive the gruelling series of tests that now define the various stages of pregnancy, the range of edifying activities open to preschoolers is frankly terrifying. Baby yoga, baby French, baby signing, aqua-babies, baby ballet, potty training, crafty babies, baby massage — all these classes and more thrive wherever the mighty Maclaren roams the streets. It seems that the defining trait of our generation of parents is to obsess about every tiny aspect of our children’s development. In part, it’s the legacy of this generation of working mothers: too busy, too guilt-ridden, too controlling. But it’s also the product of too many experts and their wretched research.

– excerpted from a column by Sarah Vine, The Times (UK)

I can’t really express the ridiculousness of this new bill any better than she did.


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