You know how negative I am about anything having to do with preschool, daycare, or any of that. We’re raising children here. If you don’t want your kids around, I guess you could use preschool and daycare for that. If you don’t want to program your life around your kids, you’ll use preschool and daycare to help you. If you know you are a really crappy parent, you can use them too. If you are in dire straits and don’t have another option right now (temporarily), I guess you’ll use them. There are many reasons to use preschool and daycare, but many of them can’t and shouldn’t be supported.
A recent article I read (entitled “Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School“) reported new research showed that trying to “teach” kids at younger and younger ages backfires. Anxious parents are so eager that their child “gets ahead” that they’ve even taken to reading books to babies still in the womb. Teachers are pressured to make kindergartens and nursery schools more like school, and even the “No Child Left Behind Act” urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools.
But direct instruction actually limits a young child’s ability to learn. Teaching allows kids to learn specific things, but they need more opportunities for exploration and play so they can “discover” on their own. They need a Mommy and a Daddy to give them a stable, supportive home and lots of love.
Head Start has always been a failure. I knew it was a failure back in the 1960s. And now, one study shows that 75% of mothers hand their iPhones over to their kids, thinking that will make them smarter. App makers are marketing directly to parents who are looking to help their children as young as 4 months old get a head start on learning. If you type in “toddler” and “educational” into the App Store, you’ll find more than 800 apps specifically marketed to children under the age of 3. One town in Maine is spending $200,000 on iPads for its entire incoming kindergarten class. So the question is, do iPads or smartphones or toddler-marketed apps really make young kids smarter?
The bottom line? NO. In fact, the American Association of Pediatrics says children under the age of 2 should not be seeing anything on a screen of any kind, whether it’s an iPhone or a television set.
Parents are too often looking for that edge to make their children the smartest. The most important thing you can do as a parent is interact with your child. You do not need an iPad or fancy software or a preschool or a daycare to make your child learn. They do it every day, all day, in many different ways. Let kids just be kids.