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Preschool Associated With Social and Academic Disadvantage

Preschool Associated With Social and Academic Disadvantage

November 1, 2012

Palmerston North, NZ – As submissions close for the new Social Security (Benefit Categories and Work Focus) Amendment Bill today, the Home Education Foundation (HEF) of New Zealand is calling on politicians and the public to scrutinise claims by the Ministry of Social Development that compulsory preschool under the “social obligations” in the bill will benefit children of beneficiaries.

Barbara Smith, National Director of the HEF, says that according to multiple studies conducted across the world, preschool is inferior to parent-led learning in the home.

“The most comprehensive study to date comes from the United States,” says Mrs Smith. “After 10 years of research, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found a strong link between long hours of non-maternal care and behavioural problems such as aggression, demanding behaviour, cruelty, fighting, and so on, even in children coming from usually privileged backgrounds.

“Principle researcher Jay Belsky discovered a number of studies over the last twenty years which backed up his observations and led him to a change of heart on the daycare question.”

A 2006 study of Quebec’s Universal Childcare Program found “some positives but some strikingly negative outcomes on children’s well-being and family functioning”. Researchers concluded that by “almost every measure, increased use of childcare was associated with a decrease in children’s well-being relative to other children”.

Canadian behavioural psychologist Dr Gordon Neufeld believes that early preschool is causing a socialisation crisis. “When you put children together prematurely before they can hold on to themselves, then they become like [the others] and it crushes the individuality rather than hones it.” Young children have the ability to form deep attachments, which historically have caused them to bond with their parents and siblings, who they will go on to have meaningful lifelong relationships with. Unfortunately, preschool and daycare prompts them to form these attachments with carers and playmates who will usually disappear from their lives at some point, shattering the child’s sense of identity.

Preschool is also linked to low academic achievement. A 2011 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that early childhood education “comes at a cost: children are less likely to discover novel information” and inhibits “exploration and discovery”. Sociologist J Conrad Schwartz found in 1986 that group care was associated with lower intelligence, poorer verbal skills and shorter attention spans.

“The fact is that when children have a lot of one-on-one interaction with adults at home, they do better than at preschool interacting with peers,” says Mrs Smith. “For children with engaged parents who want to provide learning in the home, preschool is only a drawback.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association states, “The notion that parents are not adequate teachers and mentors for their children is empirically untrue.” According to Yvonne Roberts, writing in the Guardian in 2005, “One of the longest and most detailed studies of UK childcare has concluded that young children who are looked after by their mothers do significantly better in developmental tests than those cared for in nurseries, by childminders or relatives.”

The Heritage Foundation, in comparing early education programmes in Oklahoma and Georgia, concluded that “neither state has experienced significant sustained improvement in students’ academic achievement as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.” In fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for the US states in which preschool is not compulsory are significantly higher than those of the states in which preschool is compulsory.

“Compulsory preschool will take away parents’ rights to choose the best for their children,” says Mrs Smith. “Academically and socially, parent-driven early learning is best.

“My motto as a mother is that I want my children to walk away from me when they’re ready, rather than watch me walk away from them. This produces happy, secure children,” says Mrs Smith.

“If parents want to provide superior care in their own homes, then the government shouldn’t force them into the flawed preschool system.”

Mrs Smith encourages all concerned Kiwis to make a submission to the Select Committee today. Materials for writing a submission can be found at www.hef.org.nz.

About the Home Education Foundation

The Home Education Foundation has been informing parents for 27 years about the fantastic opportunity to de-institutionalise our sons and daughters and to embrace the spiritual, intellectual and academic freedom that is ours for the taking. Through conferences, journals, newsletters and all kinds of personal communications, we explain the vision of handcrafting each child into a unique individual, complete with virtuous character, a hunger for service to others, academic acumen and a strong work ethic. For more information, please visit www.hef.org.nz or more specifically hef.org.nz/2012/make-a-submission-reject-compulsory-early-education-for-3-year-olds/

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